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Calligrapher beats disorder, uses art to bring people hope

2019-07-16Taipei Times  English News
Calligrapher Wang Chia-ling displays some of her work in Taoyuan on Friday last week./Photo courtesy of Taipei Times
Calligrapher Wang Chia-ling displays some of her work in Taoyuan on Friday last week./Photo courtesy of Taipei Times

A 32-year-old calligrapher with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia is preparing for an exhibition cohosted by the Chou Ta-kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation next year.

Wang Chia-ling  , who lives in Taoyuan’s Dasi District , was born with a hole in her diaphragm, causing some of her organs to be dislocated.

After surgery, she developed necrosis in one lung, while the remaining lung swelled, deforming her rib cage.

She also developed scoliosis, which put pressure on her heart and lungs.

She would get short of breath every few steps and breathing gave her a needle-like pain, she said.

In junior-high school, Wang underwent surgery a second time to fix her scoliosis, with doctors inserting 18 metal rods into her spine.

She relies on medication, an oxygen concentrator and ventilator to control her condition.

Alternate episodes of asthma and gastric hemorrhage led to malnutrition and developmental delays, Wang said.

As a child, whenever she got a cold, it would always worsen into pneumonia, she said, adding that she spent a quarter of her school years in hospital.

Drawing and calligraphy were the only activities that gave her peace, Wang said.

Although she is only able to draw for two to three hours a day before she experiences difficulty breathing and other symptoms, Wang’s passion for art has not faltered.

She writes the Heart Sutra, a Buddhist text, and poetry, and entered university competitions.

Specializing in clerical script, semi-cursive script and other styles, she has accumulated multiple domestic and international awards.

In 2012, she was one of the recipients of the foundation’s 15th Fervent Global Love of Lives Award.

Two years ago, Wang left Taipei and moved back to her home town, where she runs a coffee shop and calligraphy studio with her family.

Besides teaching, she is also creating works for next year’s show.

“It is nearly impossible for a person with a disease to become healthy by pulling themselves together, but we can turn bad thoughts into good ones,” Wang said.

She hopes her story will bring hope to people in similar situations, Wang said.