March 31, 2023
OCA National President Sharon M. Wong, left, and artist Tyrus Wong at the 2014 OCA National Convention. (Photo: O.C. Lee)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates salutes the pioneering Chinese American artist Tyrus Wong.

Last month, Tyrus Wong, best known for creating the visual direction of the Disney animated film Bambi, passed away at age 106. Throughout his lifetime he had struggled for acceptance in the artistic community and the larger American society, and he was only credited with his great influence on many of his best-known efforts decades after the final product.

Selected as a “Disney Legend” in 2001, Wong enjoyed recognition in his later years including an exhibit in the Museum of Chinese Americans in New York and the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. A “paper son”, Wong was forced to lie about his identity as a child in order to gain entry to the United States with his father under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. In 2014, Wong was honored with the OCA Pioneer Award at the OCA National Convention in Los Angeles, California.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Wong family. Tyrus was a trailblazer whose achievements were critical to the elevation of the larger Asian American community,” said Sharon M. Wong, OCA National President. “Life must not have been easy for a ‘paper son’ and his lifetime of successes is testament to the strength and resilience necessary to move our community forward after the Chinese Exclusion Act. Tyrus Wong chose his career at a time when Asian artists were often harassed by their coworkers and shunned by the management. However, his indisputable genius shone through all the adversity he encountered, and today we can look back on his works as representative of the beauty of our community.”

Artist Tyrus Wong, left, and his nephew Dr. Phillip Young at the 2014 OCA National Convention. (Photo by O.C. Lee)

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