Tucked inside Paducah’s Lowertown is a studio filled with Chinese culture and its dark past. BiLan Liao came to the U.S. in 1999 as a dishwasher, not speaking a word of English to put her daughter through college. Now, she’s an associate professor of art at the Paducah School of Art and Design and author.

Today, she held a book signing for the release of her first book.

It took 13 years for BiLan Liao to put her paintings into words. She hopes her painful trip through memory lane is a history lesson into Chinese culture while telling her family’s story of misfortune and even hunger.

She remembers asking as a child “grandma, do you have a little more bacon, A little meat?” Although her father was a physician and business owner, many nights Liao went to bed hungry. For speaking freely, her dad was imprisoned 3 times and eventually ended his life.

Liao worked as a welder at age 13. At 15, she developed a talent on canvas and began education herself. She says a lot of work went into achieving her dreams and opening a studio.

Part of her dream come true is her daughter’s accomplishments. “She has 2 master’s degrees and a PhD,” Liao added.

A survivor of China’s 1-child policy and the animosity surrounding birthing a daughter, Liao hopes her journey to freedom will encourage you to follow your dream and to appreciate your human rights. “I want people to know what was the truth, especially when the Chinese government blocks all of the Chinese history. I don’t want it to happen again.”

To get a copy of Diary of the Dragon’s Daughter, click here