Calligraphy in China is not merely a system of notation but an art of personal expression. As the scholar Yang Xiong wrote in the first century CE, "Writing is a picture of the heart." The tools of Chinese calligraphy allow practice to concur with this promise of expression. The writer's brush, so simple in construction, proves remarkably able to convey nuances of movement and thought. The rules of composing Chinese characters are equally important. Within any given script style, the characters are essentially fixed, composed of an established number of brush strokes following a predetermined order and direction. Knowledge of these rules allows the viewer to visually retrace the process of writing. Stroke by stroke, character by character, column by column (from right to left), one "re-views" the original performance of writing. Some say that a particularly dynamic piece of calligraphy can evoke an unearthly sense that the characters are being formed by the calligrapher even as one looks at them. No other art can claim such immediacy or capture the process of creativity so vividly. The Ming and Qing dynasty calligraphers in this exhibition reveal an active engagement with the long tradition of writing that preceded them, even as they seek to convey aspects of self and social status in their calligraphy.