Queens College Ceremony Awarded Thomas Chen Family/Crystal Windows Scholarships as Part of Endowment for Contemporary Asian Art
–College recognized distinguished journalist and best-selling young adult author Ting Chian Wang with a Lifetime Achievement Award–
Flushing, NY, October 19, 2023—On Wednesday, October 18, at 6 pm, Queens College gave out the first five scholarships funded by the Thomas Chen Family/Crystal Windows Endowment to support Asian contemporary art at the college. It also presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to distinguished author and journalist Ting Chian Wang. Queens College President Frank H. Wu, Wang, and philanthropist Thomas Chen—who established the endowment in 2021— spoke at the invitation-only event in the Klapper Hall Student Art Gallery, where a student art exhibit showcased works by the scholarship recipients.
“Here in the heart of Queens, we are pleased to spotlight the contributions of Asian writers and authors to today’s important cultural conversations,” said Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “Ting Chian Wang has been an enormously influential writer, journalist, and teacher—one who enjoys a deserved international reputation. Our students in the School of Arts are just beginning their careers, but through the generosity of Thomas Chen, we are much better able to support their explorations in contemporary Asian art. Their student work will help them emerge as accomplished artists in future.”
The scholarship recipients were chosen through a student competition evaluated by outside jurors. Four undergraduates—Elizabeth Hanson, Ryan Tong, Wei Wang, and Michele Wu—received $3,500 each toward their studies. A graduate student—Eugenie Chao—received $7,000.
“I am so proud that the Chen Family/Crystal Windows endowment is supporting the Queens College art programs,” said Thomas Chen, chairman and founder, Crystal Window and Door Systems. “Today we recognize these great endowment student scholarship winners, and it is very gratifying to be able to help them further their art education and future careers.”
The student competition drew a wide variety of submissions. Hanson, a BFA student in studio art, created ceramic vessels using the traditional Japanese kuriniki technique of hand building. The technique, which is unique to Japan, explores form and surface through a process of carving a surface from a solid block of clay, then hollowing out the inside. Tong, a BFA student in studio art, developed work based on his research into contemporary and cultural ceramics such as Guangdong ceramics, using his art to explore his identity and voice as an Asian American. Wang, a BFA student in studio art, created a painting about the journey of Chinese American immigrants, depicting both their arduous journey and—through palette and an open sky and landscape—a destination that suggests freedom and the American dream. Wu, a BFA student in design, created an abstract typographic print titled Deconstructed/Reconstructed, exploring the tumultuous feelings of growing up between cultures and exploring her more mature feelings of having a Chinese heritage and American upbringing. The work includes original short poems and incorporates multiple references to identity and experience in her personal journey toward self-acceptance—drawing on fragments borrowed, for example, from Chinese calligraphy and Latin type.
Graduate student Chao—an MFA candidate in studio art as well as a music educator—created a figurative ceramic piece based on the xun, a Chinese clay object used to play music. The piece, which includes a performance dimension, shows two figures playing xuns together. It was created in honor of her Chinese grandfather, who played the er-hu (a stringed instrument) and taught her to play with him.
Wang, a native of Shandong Province in China, has based his career in Taiwan since 1949. He is the respected author of four volumes of memoirs, three novels, one poetry collection, and seven best-selling books for teenagers. He has worked extensively in newspapers and broadcast journalism, including at the Broadcasting Corporation of China (in Taipei) for more than a quarter century. Wang taught at several universities in Taipei and was the Chinese editor of bilingual courses at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. His work, acclaimed by historians and literary critics, is on many lists of recommended books in China and Taiwan.
The Thomas Chen Family/Crystal Windows Endowment to support Asian contemporary art at the college through exhibitions, student scholarships, and a visiting artist program was begun in 2021 with a gift to Queens College of $1,105,000. Thomas Chen, an immigrant and entrepreneur who founded Crystal Window and Door Systems in Queens, New York, is a major supporter of Asian culture and art as well as educational initiatives for immigrants.