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BiLan is a contemporary Chinese artist, author, educator and speaker. She endured Mao's New China in a capitalist family with a passionate desire for freedom
in America. While still in China in 1999, she was granted a U.S. Permanent residency visa under the Alien of Extraordinary Abilities category. At the age of forty-five,
she gave up an established career and the financial security she had gained as a successful artist in China. Then she started as a child would, learning a new
language and customs. During in the 9 years she has lived in America, she has earned two Master degrees in painting, MA and MFA. She also studied art history and
fresco painting in Italy. Since 2001 she has taught at colleges in America. She received a 2016 Duchess of Paducah award, and she retired as an Associate Professor
from the Paducah School of Art & Design, KY. She is now the Chair of the Art Committee at the World Chamber of Commerce. Her stories and painting are developing
into a documentary film and future movie.
A Life without a Dream Is Like a Day without Sunshine
We must keep our dreams alive because our dreams reflect our hopes and desires. Our dreams shine the light of purpose for each one of us to understand how best
we can participate in the fabric of humankind as we evolve as a species and a part of the universal plan. Our dreams give life meaning, and help to answer the
intrinsic questions, “Who am I?” and Why am I here?” Our dreams are embedded in the hearts and minds of each one of us. Our dreams are intertwined within our
DNA. A life without a dream of hope to overcome adversity during the dark hours is like a day without sunshine. Though this concludes the events in my life to this
point, I will continue to paint the additional parts of my story that I have yet to express. I will also continue expressing my passion for life as I paint, sculpt,
photograph, and teach. My wish is that my work will help others to find the courage to tell themselves, “Never give up the dreams.” My greatest desire is to die
with my paintbrush in hand and a smile on my face!
Ms. BiLan Liao was one of the most outstanding students I have taught in China in 1992, and we have remained good friends over these many years. She is blessed
with a variety of artistic talents, and she is also an art educator. She was born and grow up in China. She and her family have experienced many reform movements
under the Mao Zedong dictatorship. The movement most know in the West was China’s Cultural Revolution, the worst tragedy in human history.
Not knowing how to speak English when BiLan immigrated to the United States in 1999, she started as a child would to learn a new language and customs. In nine
years, she received her two master’s degrees in art (MA and MFA), and she became an art professor at an America college. During that time, BiLan painted the story
of her and her family’s hardships under the Mao Zedong regime, and she has written her book, Diary of the Dragon’s Daughter. Her series of paintings and the book
follow her family’s journey, telling the truth of Chinese history. Her hope is that we will learn from history, and not repeat such a tragedy again.
People often say, “A wealth of experiences makes you rich.” BiLan is a person of great “wealth.” Although she experienced a very difficult life during the Cultural
Revolution when she was young, she never gave up her dream for freedom and an art career. She has extraordinary courage and stamina when producing works of
art. She dares to travel alone in the high mountains of the Qingzang Plateau, and she dares to float in Zijiang River by herself in pursuit of her inspiration and her
art. Over the years, her footprints have spread over many places in China and overseas.
BiLan has a special perception that sparks with inspiration revealed in her daily pursuit of art. When you are viewing her work, it seems as if you were going back to
nature, and different moods and feelings may arise within you. Her photographs and paintings are made more colorful with an exceptional use of lighting. Artists
like BiLan love art because they love nature and enjoy life, and they can transform their spiritual feelings through the paint brush on to the canvas. BiLan integrates
her artistic talents into both painting and photography. Art is her soul. When reading BiLan’s works you will enjoy the beauty of poetry and the joy of love as well.
Twenty years ago, I wrote a preface for another of her books, stating, “She is like a shining pearl no matter with sunshine or not.” Today, I still present these two
sentences to Ms. BiLan Liao, who well deserves it!
Li Zhensheng New York, January 8, 2019
(Li Zhensheng is a Chinese photojournalist who captured many of the most telling images from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution)