China: Shana Chang

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

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.

Born in Lyon, France, in 1931, Chang Shana began to study the art of mural painting in Dunhuang in 1945. Three years later she went to the USA for further studies. She was formerly head of the Central Academy of Arts and Design, and was among the first designers in industrial art. Currently she is the vice president of the China Artist Association. In early 1943 her father, Chang Shuhong, took his family to Dunhuang and Chang, who was only 12, has been fascinated with the charm of Dunhuang art ever since. Influenced by her parents, little Chang developed an interest in painting. Her father encouraged her to study the French language and Western and Chinese art history. She also had to go to the Dunhuang caves every day to copy the cave paintings. In winter her father would also give her guidance in painting techniques. These activities laid a good foundation for her art. At the end of the 1950s Chang took part in the design, construction and decoration of “ten key buildings,” including 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 Dunhuang mural paintings of the Tang Dynasty, demonstrating a combination of traditional and modern signs. This has become a classic example of Dunhuang art being integrated with modern architecture. In 1982 Chang Shana took up the post of the Deputy Dean of the Central Academy of Arts and Design, and in 1983 she became the Dean, retiring in 1998. As a teacher she was known to be very strict. 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.

Alumni Association of Europe & America China Artist Association