Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 20

COURTESY BILAN LIAO

BiLan Liao is photographed
in front of "My Journey."
The six figures in the
painting are self-portraits
of the artist at various
stages of her life.

THE STRENGTH WITHIN
Chinese artist and educator BiLan Liao finds freedom in America
By Amber Lanier Nagle * Paintings by BiLan Liao

B

old, provocative paintings embellish the walls of BiLan
Liao's Norcross home. The collection represents a recorded history-a memoir, of sorts.
"They are about facing my truths," Liao says. "My paintings
tell the many stories of my family and my journey from growing
up in China during a dark and difficult time to finally finding my
freedom here in America."
Her powerful imagery induces a sense of uneasiness, even
sorrow. Yet, as a collection, Liao's works resonate with themes
of hope and perseverance. Her paintings remind us never to
give in to adversity and always to cherish the human rights that
many take for granted.

THE DARKNESS OF CHINA
Born in Hunan province in 1954, Liao grew up during a turbulent period in China's history. From 1958 to 1961, Chairman
Mao Zedong led a campaign known as the Great Leap Forward
that attempted to push China from an agrarian economy to a
socialist society through abrupt industrialization. Millions suf-

20

Georgia Magazine

July 2019

fered and died during this time.
Liao's father had been a prosperous
physician and businessman, but things
changed during the rise of the new China.
The Chinese government seized property, closed schools, destroyed books and
sent artists, educators, doctors, lawyers,
business owners and other professionals
to farms, factories or prisons.
"The Chinese government controlled the flow of news as well, and
anyone caught listening to unauthorized
radio stations was severely punished,"
Liao says. "My father hid under a blanket
and listened to the 'Voice of America' on
a small transistor radio, while my mother
stood at the window keeping watch. Listening to the broadcasts gave him hope
that freedom and opportunity would one



Georgia Magazine - July 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - July 2019

Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Intro
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover1
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover2
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Contents
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 4
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 5
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 6
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 7
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 8
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 9
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 10
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 11
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 12
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Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 14
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Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 16
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 17
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 18
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 19
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 20
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Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 25
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 26
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 27
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 28
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 29
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Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - 46
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover3
Georgia Magazine - July 2019 - Cover4
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