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Vera Wang: Raised by a Tiger Mom but Doing It Her Way…

Vera Wang raised by Tiger Mom Harpers Bazaar interview JadeLuckClub Celebrating Asian American Creativity

Vera Wang was interviewed in Harper’s Bazaar recently and she revealed her Asian American childhood as never before. I had read about her in the past and knew that her mom hung out with Yves Saint Laurant and that she was a champion figure skater. I sorta knew that her father was a manufacturing mogul. And that An Wang, MIT entrepreneur of Wang Computers, is also a relative. But I didn’t realize that her mother was one of the original Tiger Moms.

One day I’d love to interview her for this blog (one can dream!) but for now, I have pulled some interesting quotes from the article about her childhood and how she became a designer. In a sense, is she not the definition of Asian creative success including being raised by a Tiger Mom? Still she managed to find her own way while not losing sight of who she is: down-to-earth, hardworking, disciplined and above all, a creative genius. I think she’s a great role model. How about you?

‘She is no stranger to impressive surroundings. She grew up the privileged daughter of a Chinese-born business tycoon and an elegant, worldly mother who regularly shopped the couture shows in Paris. “My mother was extremely controlled, sort of flawless. And I always tend to be a bit more hippie,” she says. “She was a Tiger Mother. … But she really tried to encourage me to be who I was.” Wang tries to be more hands-off with her own daughters, Josephine, 17, and Cecilia, 20. “I don’t live through my kids. But I do know what will happen in life, and I just want them well prepared.” Neither shows signs of wanting to follow in their mother’s footsteps, which is fine with her. “I’m sure they remember me as always exhausted.”

Wang has been rising at dawn and working around the clock since age eight, when she famously took up figure skating. While at college at Sarah Lawrence, her parents thought she would be a champion skater. “I was trying to manage school and training for the Olympics and ended up not doing well at either. That was a big lesson in my life,” she sighs. “My mother expected both.”

After graduating, Wang dedicated herself entirely to working her way up the fashion food chain. “It’s a calling. Like being a musician. I mean, the hours of practice, the loneliness, the dedication. It was a very obsessive job for me,” she explains. “My father didn’t get it,” she continues, remembering a time she had to turn down dinner with him even though he had flown into Paris just to see her while she was shooting with Arthur Elgort. “I’m in the middle of the Place de la Concorde, and I had a military jacket on with pins, tape, and clamps. I looked like a terrorist or something, and my father said, ‘Can’t you just comb your hair and put a dress on and come to dinner with me?’ I said no. And he said, ‘I don’t know why you want to do this,’ and I said, ‘I do.'”

In fact, it was her own wedding that launched her bridal brand. In 1989, Wang was working as a design director at Ralph Lauren. Frustrated with racks of the requisite meringues and sugary confections at shops everywhere, she wanted a modern antidote. So she hired a dressmaker to achieve her own design–a simple gown of white sequins. The next year, with funding from her father, she launched her eponymous label to fill the niche for brides seeking similarly chic looks. “I saw it as a foundation for a business I could make a difference in and as something that could lead to other businesses,” she says.

Wang never got a “vote of approval or a ‘hurrah for you’ or any of that” from her beloved father, who died in 2006 on the morning of her Spring 2007 show. It might be why she never allows herself to rest on her laurels. “If I were to say at any point that I feel really con?dent or really in control, that would be a mistake. Because I don’t,” she says. “I always see where I didn’t do things the right way. I only see the heavy lifting. That’s a bit of my wisdom, if you want to call it that. … I think what it really is, is that I have an artistic soul. And I didn’t know how to live without indulging that.”‘


Fresh Ink at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: Arnold Chang’s Take on Chinese Traditional Art

Fresh Ink Museum of Fine Arts Arnold Chang Notable Asian American Artist JadeLuckClub Celebrating Asian American Creativity best Asian American Artist notable Asian American Artists collectible Asian American art

From “Fresh Ink,” Arnold Chang’s Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains(detail), 2008, handscroll, is a response to Jackson Pollock’s classic drip painting Number 10. COURTESY MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON

Convergence: Number 10, 1952, Jackson Pollock

I had but a minute to peer into this exhibit that last time that I went to the MFA with my family. The kids wanted to find a hand-on craft making postcards and the MFA had just opened their newest wing so we were all turned around. Searching for that elusive room was the only opportunity to see any art so I was happy that the way was long and circuitous because once we found our destination, my husband and I sat outside the room (it was crowded) and waited for them.

Fresh Ink features 10 pairings of classic and contemporary works among the approximately 40 pieces (including preparatory sketches and woodblocks by the artists) in the exhibition. The masterpieces chosen from the Museum’s collection vary in age, medium, and culture. They span 3,000 years, from an 11th-century BC bronze vessel, to paintings on silk from the Song Dynasties period (AD 960–1268), to a Jackson Pollock canvas of 1949. The new works also range widely in format, from traditional handscrolls, hanging scrolls, and carved wooden screens, to silk banners and monumental folding books.” from MFA press release

What is interesting to me is that Arnold Chang is the only person in this group of Chinese artists who was born and raised in the United States and yet his work is on the traditional side. Is it like home cooks, where the good cooks skip a generation? Grandma is a great cook, so mom doesn’t have to cook, and the grandchild wants to both eat and learn to cook at grandma’s? Not that the other artists (Li HuayiLi JinLiu Dan, Liu Xiaodong, Qin Feng, Qiu Ting, Xu Bing, Yu Hong, Zeng Xiaojun) aren’t good, most are just less traditional.

Arnold Chang

-Born in 1954 in New York, where he currently resides

-MFA masterpiece: Number 10 (1949) by Jackson Pollock (1912–1956

-Artist’s response: a landscape handscroll, Secluded Valley in the Cold Mountains (Collection of the Artist, 2008), and a preparatory sketch, Brushwork Study for Reorienting Pollock (Collection of the Artist, 2008)

Just because my blog is new, I’m going to post this and email Arnold Chang to see if he’ll agree to an interview to learn more about his life and how he became an artist. Wish me luck!

What do you think of these Chinese paintings? Do you prefer traditional Chinese art or contemporary?


Liu Xiaodong’s “What to Drive Out?’’ plays off a 15th-century painting.
Liu Xiaodong’s “What to Drive Out?’’ plays off a 15th-century painting. (
Museum of Fine Arts)


Best Asian American Children’s Authors & Illustrators

Asian American Children's Young Adult Book Award JadeLuckClub PragmaticMom Pragmatic Mom Asian American Tiger MomThere is the Pura Belpre Award, established in 1996, and presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

And the Coretta Scott King Book Awards which honor new African American authors and illustrators with less than three published works.

Don’t forget the Africana Awards which honors outstanding authors and illustrators of children’s books about Africa published in the United States.

One more:  the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award which honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Mexican American experience.


There are plenty of children’s book awards for multicultural children’s books, but where is the one for Asian American’s Children’s Literature honoring best Asian American children’s books? That’s right, there isn’t one. YET …


I’m partial to [Put Your Name Here] Asian American Children’s and Young Adult Book Award which honor authors and illustrators who create literature that depicts the Asian American experience. Do you want to name this award? Let’s talk! It really isn’t so hard to do, right? First you need the $ sponsor. Some legal stuff to set up a non-profit and put the money into a trust. Then define the award and categories– I’d let the name sponsor have a big say. Next would be creating a committee to set up rules, regs and procedures, and pick the first judging committee.  A fancy logo would be nice.  Get the publishers on board to send the books to the judges. Fire it up, pick some winners, have a fancy award dinner, and communicate it. It could even be for a specific nationality, like best Chinese children’s books!


And who should win it? I’d put my money on one of these authors (assuming that we can go back in time to make our awards if the award must be given during year the book was first published). I think these are some of the best authors that are either Asian American OR depict Asian American themes or characters in Children’s and Young Adult Literature.

And I know I am missing a lot of good books out there. I’m new to Young Adult lit.

Please help me add more candidates. What are your favorite authors or books in this new-you-and-I-are-creating Asian American Children’s or YA Literature genre? Please share in comments section. And pick your winner!

Mitsumasa Anno

 To examine or purchase any book, please click on image of book.

Sook Nyul Choi

Yansook Choi

Cynthia Kadohata

Rose Kent

Marie G. Lee

Grace Lin

Lenore Look

Bette Bao Lord

Jon Muth

Soyung Pak

Linda Sue Park

Mitali Perkins

Allen Say

Wendy Shang

Jordan Sonnenblick

Yoshiko Uchida

Rosemary Wells

Janet S. Wong

Gene Luen Yang

Taro Yashima

Lisa Yee


To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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