Middlebury College Museum of Art


Hong Chun Zhang: Hair Story in Charcoal and Ink

January 24–May 3, 2020

Hong Chun Zhang is a classically trained Chinese artist who currently lives in Lawrence, Kansas. Zhang developed her trademark “hairy” style in 2002, fusing the ink painting conventions of her homeland with approaches to media and composition learned in the United States. Raised among artists, she attended high school at and received her B.F.A. from the prestigious Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) in Beijing. She moved to the United States in 1996 to pursue an M.A. from California State University, Sacramento and an M.F.A. from the University of California, Davis.

Hong Chun Zhang, Curl, 2019, charcoal on paper
Hong Chun Zhang (Chinese, b. 1971), Curl, 2019, charcoal on paper, 36 x 70 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Hong Chun Zhang 2019

Upon completing her graduate work, Zhang continued painting in ink, but she abandoned standard Chinese subjects and started working with new materials and on a larger scale. Seeking a style that would make ink painting feel more familiar to American audiences, she turned her attention to hair. The long black locks that pervade her artworks bind her to her past in China, even as her depictions of the natural world evoke her new home. In this series, hair becomes a channel for Zhang’s exploration of her personal identity.

Zhang has carried out fellowships and residencies in New York and Venice, and her work has been exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC, Asia Society Texas Center in Houston, Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, and major museums in Australia, Norway, Holland, and China. She is also represented in public and private collections in Paris, Sydney, Beijing, Zurich, and the United States.