Tsong-Zung J. Chang, Class of 1973

Your curating, writing, and gallery work has led the Far Eastern Economic Review to call you “a pioneer in contemporary Chinese art.” Driven by a love of ideas, spawned, you have said, in your days as a philosophy student at Williams, you have become perhaps the world’s most influential advocate of modern Chinese art. Scores of artists owe what attention and economic freedom they have to your work. Your Hanart TZ Galleries in Hong Kong and Taiwan have become the main lenses through which this art is experienced by audiences in Asia and the West. Your traveling exhibitions have brought it to venues around the world, including the Venice Biennale, the Sao Paulo Biennale, and this very campus.  You have had the wisdom to see that one way a society manages significant change is through art and, as a result, have focused on helping China reckon through art with its past—the three thousand years of political cohesion from which modern China has tried to break. Reconnection by contemporary artists with this past, you have argued, is vital to that society’s search for a new identity. You have spearheaded at least three major developments in Chinese contemporary art: its recovery from the demoralization that followed Tiannamen Square, its dealing with issues surrounding the return of Honk Kong, and its embrace of sculpture as a legitimate medium along with the arts of the brush. “Part of his talent is seeing the big picture,” one commentator has said. As a result, the world’s most populous society has become more transparent to itself and to its global neighbors.