Cathy Lu is a ceramics based artist who manipulates traditional Chinese art imagery and presentation as a way to deconstruct the assumptions we have about Chinese American identity and cultural authenticity. Whether it be the hand-built quality of porcelain security barricades or the effect of various glazes and lusters on slip-cast fruits, Lu emphasizes the malleability of clay. In its many forms, ceramic becomes a potent metaphor for the elastic and evolving nature of cultural identity.

Referencing the Chinese myth of the Immortal Peach Garden, where the deities ate peaches that gave them eternal life, Lu examines the myth in relation to another prevalent mythological garden in American culture, The Garden of Eden. Both of these mythological gardens contain stories that exemplify hierarchy, xenophobia, and fetishize their fruits. Lu’s version of these peaches are transformed and fermenting, resisting traditional symbolism and offering an alternative ‘third space’ for third culture people such as the artist herself.


Fruits are also important symbols in Chinese culture and art – representing wealth, prosperity, longevity, or success. Lu likes to show the fruits bruised and bleeding, and like the girls she paints in her early watercolor on paper works, she continues to play with the idea of what it means to go ‘bad’. Furthermore, Lu explores the idea that food can be a language of ‘home’, creating a sense of identity and belonging.


Lu received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and her BA & BFA from Tufts University. She has participated in artist in residence programs at Root Division SF, Recology SF, and The Archie Bray, MT. Her work has been exhibited at Aggregate Space, Berkeley Art Center, Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and / Slash Art, SF. She was a 2019 Asian Cultural Council / Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation Fellow.


As the winner of 2022 SECA Award, Cathy Lu's large-scale installation "Resurgnece" has been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art after its presentation at the 2022 SECA Award Exhibition in the museum in early 2023.