Shana Chang – China

She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.

She says: “Life is a chain of difficulties. When one obstacle is overcome, another arises. However, I will never retreat. My youth will not return, so whatever the difficulties, I will struggle to the end”.

Shana Chang - China rogné redim 80p.jpg

Shana Chang – China

She works for the Alumni Association of Europe & America,
and for the China Artist Association

Apart from being an educator, Chang Shana is also engaged in the research and protection of Dunhuang cave art. As a professional scholar she has achieved great popularity because of her important creative designs and published works. She is committed to teaching, art, and the preservation of Dunhuang culture.Chang Shana was born in Lyon, France in 1931. She started to study mural painting in Dunhuang in 1945. In 1948, she went to the USA for further studies. She is the former head of Central Academy of Arts and Design. She belongs to the first generation of new China designers in industrial art who have produced many research works. She is now the vice president of China Arts Association. Her father Chang Shuhong was a famous Chinese painter and specialist in Dunhuang Studies, who had been honored as “the eudemon of Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes”. He was also the first Director of Dunhuang Cultural Relics Institute. At the beginning of 1943, Chang took his family to Dunhuang. Subsequently, Chang became a famous expert in Dunhuang Studies, and Chang Shana, who was only 12 that year, has since been fascinated by the charm of Dunhuang art.

Influenced by her parents, little Shana was very interested in painting. When she was about to enter junior high school, she could only choose one school in Jiuquan, which is 200 kilometers away. Therefore, it was only in summer and winter vacation that she could go to Mogao Grottoes to copy the mural paintings that she yearned for day and night. Her father planned for her a very disciplined study, studying French, language, and Western and Chinese art history. She also had to go to the Dunhuang caves everyday to make copies of the paintings. In the winter, when she could not go to the caves, her father would give her guidance in painting techniques at home. These laid a good foundation for her art.

Two years later, misfortune came to this family. Chang’s mother could not stand the trial and loneliness any more; she deserted her husband, her daughter, Shana, and her son, who was barely 4 years old, leaving their home in Dunhuang. Chang Shana, who was only 14 that year, had to leave school to take care of her little brother. But it was actually a favorable turn in Chang’s life, which determined the way to art of her life. In 1945, Chang went to Lanzhou with her father, with an exhibition entitled “Painting Exhibition of Chang Shuhong and Chang Shana”, and won considerable praise in the art circle. The dozens of facsimiles done by little Shana were very popular. Ye Lihua, an American lady of Canadian nationality saw her works, and insisted on sponsoring her to further study in the USA, something that became a reality some years later.

In the summer of 1948, Chang Shuhong took Shana and her brother Jianing to Nanjing to hold art exhibitions and to prepare for Shana’s overseas studies. Having lived for five years in the desolate Dunhuang area, Chang Shana felt like an indigenous primitive person lost in the urban buzz. She would throw up riding in a car, and she did not know how to make purchases with money.

In her two years’ study in the Art Institute of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Chang got systematic and standard education in art, which also broadened her horizon. When she heard the news that New China had been set up, she could not wait to return, and left when her courses were still not finished.
A couple Liang Sicheng and Lin Huiyin appreciated Chang’s talents in art, especially in Dunhuang art, so they recommended her to teach in the Department of Architecture of Tsinghua University. Thus, the original intention of Chang’s father changed, because he had wanted his daughter to be a painter, but she went into art design and art education.

At the end of the 1950s, Chang took part in the design, construction and decoration of “ten key buildings” like the Great Hall of the People and the National Art Museum in Beijing. In designing the ceiling of the dining hall of the Great hall of the People, Chang adroitly applied the coffer pattern used in the mural painting of Dunhuang during the Tang Dynasty, which shows the combination of national features with modern signs. This has become a classical work of Dunhuang art integrated with modern architecture.

In 1982, Chang Shana took on the post of the Deputy Dean of Central Academy of Arts and Design, and 1983 she became the Dean. In 1998, she retired from the position. She was also once a delegate to the 12th and 13th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and delegate to the 8th and 9th National People’s Congress and a member of the standing committee of the 9th National People’s Congress. She was the vice president of China Artists Association. As a teacher, she was known to be very strict, whether on the matter of her students’ work, or their ethics. She was also very active in social work, with the sense of responsibility of an artist. During her 50 years of teaching, she has cultivated a new force in art design.

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