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Cathy Lu

<< Call & Response Artists

Ceramic sculpture with the shape of a face.

Cathy Lu

Ceramic sculpture with the shape of a face.

American Dream Pillow Series


These ceramic pillows are meditations on the Asian American experience, reconciling our American dream with the realities of struggling to fully belong. During the Tang Dynasty, it was believed that resting on these pillows would influence your dreams and affect your future outcomes.

Each feature alludes to an Asian American experience – bananas (yellow on the outside, white on the inside), East Asian beauty masks that have become popular in the US, and long nails, referencing the Chinese belief that long nails signified wealth, as well as the nail salons in the US run by East Asian immigrants.

During the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, Cathy Lu placed the pillows in front of San Francisco’s City Hall, and invited friends to lay their heads on these pillows and reflect on their “American Dream.”

Cathy Lu, American Dream Pillow Series, 2020. Image courtesy of Aaron Rosenstreich


Purchase this artwork and others from the Call & Response exhibition online at MCD’s Artists Marketplace.



Cathy Lu (b. Miami, FL) is a ceramics-based artist that manipulates traditional Chinese art imagery and presentation as a way to deconstruct the assumptions we have about Chinese identity and cultural authenticity. By creating ceramic-based sculptures and installations, she explores what it means to be both Asian and American, while not being entirely accepted as either. Unpacking how experiences of immigration, cultural hybridity, and cultural assimilation become part of American identity is central to her work.

She 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, Vermont Studio Center, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, and Recology SF. Her work has been exhibited at Johansson Projects, Somarts, Aggregate Space, and the Chinese Culture Center. She was a 2019 Asian Cultural Council/ Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation Fellow. She currently teaches at California College of the Arts and Mills College.

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