In Memoriam: Tyrus Wong (1910-2016)

The talented artist's work and life story is captured on film in a new documentary.

Pioneering artist Tyrus Wong passed away last week, at age 106. Tyrus attended CAAMFest 2016, where the documentary about his life was the Opening Night film. Director Pamela Tom spend nearly a decade following Tyrus to make the award-winning film, TYRUS.

“Sad, sad news. The beloved Tyrus Wong – great artist, Disney Legend, dear friend, and giant of a man, passed away this morning. I feel blessed and privileged to have spent nearly 20 year documenting his story – interviewing him, following him around with a crew, snooping through his drawers & art studio for photos & paintings, cracking up at his jokes, tearing up over his stories of love and loss, heartbroken/angry over the racism and discrimination he faced, and learning the true meaning of humility, resilience, and generosity. Tyrus, you will always be my hero and inspiration. I LOVE YOU,” wrote director Pamela Tom after his passing.

From the CAAMFest program guide description of the film:

“With a century of stories and achievements captured in over a decade of filmmaking, Pamela Tom’s award-winning TYRUS paints a beautifully intimate portrait of 105-year-old artist Tyrus Wong. Tom’s documentary unveils the multi-layered journey of a pioneering icon whose art has touched millions, most famously through Disney’s Bambi. Wong’s epic story follows his arrival to Angel Island, his battle for identity in the workplace, the evolution of his voice and legacy and what he views to be his greatest achievement, his family.” Brian Ray

Before Tyrus joined CAAMFest at Opening Night, he went on a special trip to the Asian Art Museum, where he signed one of his long lost paintings.

TYRUS will air on PBS’ American Masters later in 2017.