I met Cathy on one of my first days of grad school, fell in love with her work and have been following her career ever since. So it’s with great pleasure that we share a little bit more about Cathy and her work and can’t wait to have her join us for the month of July!
Duplex: Tell us how the concept of Bad Fruit progressed.
Cathy Lu: In traditional Chinese imagery, you always see fruits – peaches, apples, etc, and I was always curious about this imagery – what it meant or represented. Many of the fruits in this imagery were usually tied to prosperity and longevity, and many of these ideas are very much tied to gender and a historic preference of males over females. I think a similar thing happens in American culture, where there are definitely gender expectations. Girls are usually compared to being ‘sweet/ sweet as a peach.’ Bad Fruit, or fruit gone bad is like my version of ‘girls gone wild.’
D: What materials do you work with?
CL: I work with many materials – mostly in sculpture or watercolors. Recently, because so much of my work is referencing traditional Chinese art, I’ve been sticking to ceramic and watercolor paintings
D: Describe your studio space. How often do you work there?
CL: I love my studio space. It’s in SF in Bayview. I share with 4 other great artists. I do most of my work there. I do my ceramic work where I work at The Crucible, an industrial arts center in West Oakland. It’s a small clay department, but its got everything I need. I can never work in my studio enough.
D: Tell us about your background.
CL: My parents were immigrants from Taiwan, and ended up settling in Miami Fl, where I was born and raised. I think growing up in that environment, with so many Cuban exiles, where there were very few East Asian people, made me very interested in culture and identity.
D: I totally spotted your work in the background of a documentary about penis size! (Unhung Hero) Have you seen it? Is your work up permanently at Good Vibrations?
CL: I used to work at Good Vibes, and they were so generous to let me organize a group show and show work there. The show was up for about a month in 2011, and the works dealt with the ideas of beauty around the body. Its pretty funny to have my work associated with a bunch of dildos.
D: In your previous work including your “Girls Playing” you speak about gender, race and identity, how do you see Bad Fruit as an extension of these themes, if at all?
CL: I think Bad Fruit is definitely an extension of these things.
D: Do you draw any parallels from dismembered bodies and bruised fruit?
CL: Dismembered sounds so graphic to me! I think of the bodies as being more fragmented. I’ve always been interested in the physical body as a way to understand the self, and the way the ‘self’ can be fragmented by different roles, etc. I’ve been interested in peeling away the skin so as to understand what’s ‘underneath.’ I think I’m doing the same thing to the fruits.
D: Is the recurring female figure a reflection of self?
CL: Maybe, but she was mostly part of my older work. I’m more interested in the baby girls now!
D: Your work had a dark humor; do you find this to be an important part of your process?
CL: I think so. It makes it easier to digest violence, ‘dark’ subject matter. I think it makes it stick with you longer, to try and understand what you’re seeing, and maybe the conflicting feelings you have about what you’re seeing.
D: You’re constantly working and experimenting with new material, does the project dictate the choice of material or does the exploration of material direct the project? Is there a material that you are interested in working with next?
CL: I think its so exciting to work with different materials! I think my projects dictate the material…but it does so happen that my projects always involve materials that I like to work with/want to explore anyway. I try not to think about it too much. If something feels right, then I do it.