Extensions: New Work by Hong Chun Zhang

Artist Lecture with Tai Edwards: Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, 7:00 p.m., Nerman Lobby, with reception following

Hong at Home Studio by Carlos Moreno in Sept 2021
Hong at Home Studio by Carlos Moreno in Sept 2021

The Nerman Museum presents an exhibition of new work by Lawrence, Kansas-based artist Hong Chun Zhang, featuring her meticulous charcoal drawings and ink paintings of long, straight black hair. There is meaning embedded in this imagery, as Zhang explains: “According to Eastern culture, a young woman’s long hair is associated with life force ... like a portrait, the image of hair can express personal feelings and emotions.”

Born in Shenyang, Liaoning province, Zhang’s parents both practiced and taught Chinese fine style ink painting, an exacting technique that requires a deep knowledge of the materials. As a young girl, Zhang began developing her own artistic skills, and eventually went on to study at Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, spending four years perfecting her fine style ink painting technique. She came to the West Coast to continue her arts education, earning graduate degrees at both California State University, Sacramento (MA, 2002) and the University of California, Davis (MFA, 2004).

After finishing her MFA, Zhang relocated to Lawrence, Kansas, with her family. During the recent pandemic, she focused her energy on creating work that demonstrates her concerns and desires for equity, cultural diversity and unity during this difficult time. Her work comments on experiences associated with the global pandemic, such as growing one’s hair long and the need to socially distance, but also addresses the importance of connections and the relationships between lovers or families. Fashioning a drawing of an upraised fist out of hair, Zhang expresses her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but also alludes to solidarity during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Zhang’s work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington, DC), Asia Society Texas Center (Houston, TX), Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles), and the Lawrence Arts Center. She has exhibited internationally at Milan Royal Palace (Italy), the Museum of Contemporary Art Norway (Oslo), the 3rd Chengdu Biennale, and the 9th Shanghai Biennale in China. Zhang’s work is selected in many public and private collections including Sylvain Levy/DSL Collection (Paris), The White Rabbit Collection of Contemporary Chinese Art (Sydney), The Ministry of Culture of China (Beijing), The Origo Family Collection of Chinese Ink Paintings (Zurich), the Spencer Museum of Art (Lawrence, KS), the Ulrich Art Museum (Wichita, KS), The Kansas City Collection, The Middlebury College Museum of Art, and The Harvard Art Museums.