Love, compassion, experience, generosity – take your pick! Robert Hsu is a man of many impressive talents. He is a scientist, researcher, surgeon, tutor, artist, and family man who not only broke language and culture barriers, but was also able to blend into the American culture while keeping his Chinese values! We are so honored that he decided to join us in this delightful journey through Human Diaries and tell us about his adventures and acts of kindness. We love the fact that he prioritizes and cares deeply about his family and friends. After all, a “Calligraphy Man” is an art man, a soul man and a wonderful spirit man.
Please join us in learning about Mr. Hsu and his wonderful world of calligraphy!
Q: Mr. Hsu, could you please tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
A: I grew up in Taiwan, before immigrating to the United States in 1994 to obtain my doctoral degree. Currently, I am a biomedical researcher working for a non-profit organization. I am very productive in research, and I have published numerous research works in many world class scientific journals, such as Nature, PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, and others. Aside from being a researcher, I am a Chinese calligrapher; I trained myself intensively in the art of Chinese calligraphy ever since the age of eight. When I was in college, I was the president of the calligraphy club. I taught myself, using many ancient calligraphy script books to master my technique, learning for the past forty years. I write calligraphy frequently, teach classes, and host calligraphy workshops. Being bilingual, I am able to teach Chinese calligraphy in both English and Chinese. I have designed classes that are suitable for both children and adults. My mission is to broadcast Chinese calligraphy, this unique, ancient Asian art, to people.
Q: How did you become interested in calligraphy?
A: I became interested in Chinese calligraphy at the age of eight and since then I have never stopped. I enjoy the beauty of each Chinese character, and I enjoy writing them using my calligraphy brush. In college, I spent extra time studying Chinese calligraphy as my hobby; not only did I get better at writing, but I also gained more knowledge about this prestigious ancient Chinese art.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about seal carving?
A: Calligraphy has also led to the development of many other forms of art, such as seal (chop) carving. The Chinese writing style frequently used in the seal carving is called “seal script”, an elegant, beautiful Chinese writing form from two thousand five hundred years ago, also the formal writing script of the Qin dynasty. Since this ancient style of Chinese writing is used predominantly in seals, the English name reflects this accordingly. Although seals (also sometimes called name chops because of the signature-like impression), are carved in wood, stone, bone, jade and other materials, the script itself was originally written with brush and ink on paper, just like all other scripts. Nowadays fewer and fewer people can read seal script, and it is generally only used in the fields of calligraphy and carved seals. However, because seals frequently serve the purpose of signing work in Chinese and Japanese culture, especially in calligraphy and painting, seals have become a fundamental part of the art work itself. That is why the seal script still remains ubiquitous.
Q: Where, and how often, do you hold your workshops?
A: I taught Chinese calligraphy in many Chinese schools for the past ten years in the greater Philadelphia region. However, due to my busy medical research, I currently only host workshops upon request. Besides teaching in different Chinese schools and summer camps, I also attend many Chinese festivals as well as international cultural activities; providing workshops, live demonstrations, posters, talks and lectures. I have been invited to universities, art league museums, senior retirement centers, and others to give talks, present posters, to host workshops, and of course, to give live demonstrations.
Q: What is your creative process like?
A: Calligraphy isn’t like other art forms. It isn’t just drawn in a moment of epiphany. This is an art form that takes years upon years of practice and discipline. My creative process has evolved over the last forty years. It began with merely attempting to copy the beauty of the true ancient masters, and now I am able to write words on my own, of my own accord. I usually write for others upon request, elegant scripture to hang in homes or poetry to give to the deceased. Chinese calligraphy is not only a way to express writing; it also calls for a creative thinking process. Every single step matters. First I decide the characters I want to write; I need to choose the most suitable tools and materials. Sometimes I need to meditate beforehand in order to produce a true piece of art.
Q: Who or what inspires you?
A: The language itself has always been my greatest inspiration. The beauty of the characters and the elegance of the script have always been the greatest motivation.
Q: What are your other hobbies or ways to relax?
A: I enjoy reading and tutoring, watching TV, playing ping-pong with friends, and card games. The thing I love most, though, is communicating with people. I volunteer myself in various different activities, such as helping out in community book sales, being a substitute teacher in Chinese school, or just helping someone out.
Q: If you could meet anyone, who would it be?
A: The people I want to see most are not people who are famous or noteworthy, but my old friends who I have not seen for years.
Q: If anything was possible, what would you wish for?
A: I would wish for a healthy, happy society. Everyone would have a fulfilling job, and
crime and sickness would be at a minimum, while happiness, kindness, and justice reign.
Q: What do you think of Human Diaries?
A: After viewing the postings from “Human Diaries”, I think “Human Diaries” is a family friendly website with proper language and materials monitored. They provide versatile stages for people like you and me to deliver the message to the world. They report real time inspiring stories in high quality to a huge local community as well as around the world. Personally, I would like to show my gratitude that “Human Diaries’ giving me this wonderful opportunity to introduce my passion, Chinese calligraphy, in their website.