I-Hsiung Ju, professor of art and artist-in-residence emeritus at Washington and Lee University, died on March 17, 2012, at his home in North Fort Myers, Fla.
“Professor Ju will be remembered not only as a talented artist but also as an extremely popular member of the W&L faculty and of the Lexington community for three decades,” said Washington and Lee President Kenneth P. Ruscio. “Many of his longtime Lexington friends were able to reconnect with him just this past October, when he had an exhibition in Staniar Gallery.”
Born in Jiangyin, Jiangsu, China, on Sept. 15, 1923, he joined the guerrilla resistance against the Japanese Army at age 15. As a student of art at the wartime campus of Xiamen University, he put on exhibitions of paintings, created theatrical productions, and published poetry and woodcuts. After graduation, he followed his Xiamen sweetheart, Chow Soon Chuang, to the Philippines, where they married in 1947. There, the couple taught school, and Ju received his B.F.A. in painting in 1955 and his M.A. in history in 1968 from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila .
While living in the Philippines, Ju won awards for graphic art, oil painting and Nanga works in various countries, and he held numerous one-man shows in Australia, Canada, China, England, Hong Kong, Japan and the Philippines. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1968 and became a citizen in 1973.
Before arriving at W&L, he taught and served as artist-in-residence at the Wadsworth Atheneum, the University of Connecticut, the University of Vermont, the University of Maine, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Santo Tomas, and the School of Fine Arts at the University of East Quezon City, the latter two in the Philippines. He also taught at St. Stephen’s High School and the Manila Patriotic School, both in Manila.
Ju joined Washington and Lee in 1969 as artist-in-residence and later earned tenure as professor of art. He established the Art in Taiwan program at W&L, leading groups of students to Taiwan every other year to learn Chinese art from famous artists. The Ring-tum Phi, Washington and Lee’s student newspaper, named him Professor of the Year for 1971. He also received the Best Art Educator of the Year for 1974 from the Chinese National Writers’ and Artists' Association in Taipei, Taiwan, and the Distinguished Artist of the Year of 1978 from the National Museum of History of the Republic of China. In 1996, Ju won the Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Art Award from the Philippine Chinese Association of America (Northeast).
In 1975, Ju and his wife, Chow-Soon, established the Art Farm Gallery just outside Lexington, where they taught Chinese calligraphy and brush painting, culinary arts, flower arrangement and other aspects of Chinese culture — sometimes bartering lessons for the students’ doing chores around the farm — and presented exhibits of the work of young artists. “We have the philosophy that it’s easy to love only your own children,” he told the Roanoke Times in 1975. “It’s more rewarding to take care of other people’s children.” After he retired from W&L in 1989, he and Chow-Soon continued operating the Art Farm Gallery until 1999. He relocated his studio to Princeton, N.J. in 2002.
On his retirement from the W&L faculty, Ju received emeritus status from the Board of Trustees. At the time, his colleague Gerard Doyon said, “Like an unfailing light, his ready smile has brightened our day. Like a dancing spark, his ever-cheerful disposition has ignited our spirit. Like an ever-glowing ember, his soft voice has warmed our mood.”
Ju continued to teach Chinese brush painting through correspondence courses and workshops. His exhibition in W&L’s Staniar Gallery in October 2011 was titled “Journey Home” and featured his Yangtze River brush-painting series and his scroll-painting series of Huangshan Mountain. Considered one of the few Chinese artists able to blend two worlds of style, technique and idiom to produce a form that is both modern and traditional, Ju described his particular style by saying that "a Chinese artist is not only a painter, but also a poet and a philosopher."
He is survived by his wife, Chow-Soon Chuang; eldest daughter, Doris Ju; second daughter, Helen Ju; third daughter, Jane Ju, and son-in-law, Weijan Chi; granddaughter Chienyn Chi; youngest daughter, Grace Ju, and son-in-law, Garth Miller; granddaughter Zea Miller and grandson Noah Miller.
The viewing and funeral service are on Friday, March 23, at the Fuller Metz Funeral Home in Cape Coral, Fla., starting at 5 p.m. There will be a memorial service on July 7 in Princeton, N.J., and a Lexington service is being planned for September.
Condolences may be addressed to Mrs. Chow-Soon Chuang Ju and family at 18165 Sandy Pines Circle, N. Fort Myers, FL 33917.
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs