When BiLan Liao was young, her mother always said she was different from her brother and sisters. She said she
seemed much more of an adventurer. BiLan began a journey from a young age to prove her mother right.
Born in the Hunan Province in China during the great tragedy of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, BiLan began a
secret journey through what is often called the Dark Period of Chinese history. From her father’s success as a doctor
to his incarceration for not supporting the Communist Party and ultimately through his death, BiLan followed in her
father’s philosophical footsteps learning to be open minded by following her adventurous spirit through an art
education. She learned valuable lessons in secret as she studied fine art, earning a BFA in graphic design and
photography and attending as many art classes and workshops as she could.
After college she began working for her district government as a Vice Chairwoman and the director of painting and
photography, supervising ten county art centers throughout Baoan and Longgang, Shenzhen District. She also
developed and presided over a photography organization formed to promote Longgang’s economic development.
Consequently, she had the opportunity to teach art as well as show her own work throughout China. Her work was
featured in newspapers and on television all over the world, leading to a book of her photography and paintings
published in Chinese.
In 1999, she was granted U.S. permanent residency under the “alien of extraordinary abilities” category. With her
adventurous spirit still in tact, she was now able to openly pursue her art education earning both an MA in painting
from University of Indianapolis and an MFA in painting from Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan. She
also had the opportunity to study art history and fresco painting at SACI in Florence, Italy.
She has taught at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Art Center as well as for
Kendall College of Art and Design’s continuing studies program, before becoming an Associate Professor and leader
of the Painting program at the Paducah School of Art and Design at West Kentucky Community and Technical
She has also been a guest lecturer, presenting her work and lectures all over the world including in China and Paris.
Perhaps most importantly, she designed and built the BiLan Liao Gallery in Paducah’s historic arts community in
Lower Town. She displays her own work as well as the work of invited artists from all over the country.
Currently she is working on a book based on her latest series of paintings “A Window into Chinese History and the
Chinese Cultural Revolution.” The series and the book explore the subject through the stories of five generations of
“BiLan truly does offer a window into Chinese Culture by sharing her family’s sometimes typical, sometimes tragic
story. Women everywhere can find strength in her paintings and her words as they travel through generations of the
Liao family’s sorrows and triumphs.” –Dr. Marcie Hinton, book editor and Professor at Murray State University.