Lucy Lu: Chinese-Canadian Artist & Photographer (Toronto - October 2019)

Lucy Lu. Courtesy of the artist.

Lucy Lu. Courtesy of the artist.

Located in the Ryerson Image Centre this month, you will find an amazing collection of memories by Chinese-Canadian artist, Lucy Lu. Fête Chinoise is proud to introduce this exhibition with notes from the RIC team.

Artist’s Exhibition Description:

In the uncharted corners of my mind live the memories of the first five years of my life in Xi’an, China. Although Toronto has been home for most of my twenty-five years, Xi’an was where everything started. The memories of that time are as clear as they are nebulous, distinctly my own, but of a different lifetime. Having grown up very much embracing my Canadian identity, I’ve found my connection to my Chinese culture growing thin. My level of Mandarin is on par with that of a middle-school student, and my relationships with many extended family members in China have been worn down by distance and time.

My limited knowledge of the realities of life in China, and my ancestral history, lead me to question what my responsibilities are to knowing and embracing my heritage. How much of Chinese culture should I adopt and pass onto my own children? 
— Lucy Lu
Lucy Lu,  Above My Great Aunt’s Bed , 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist

Lucy Lu, Above My Great Aunt’s Bed, 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist

Through images and words, I try to paint a picture of my connection to Da Pi Yuan, the gated apartment community where my grandparents still live. I lean into the dream-like, fragmented nature of memory, and show my discovery of my ancestral past through archival images and conversations with my grandparents. I meditate on the notions of home and familial relationships as a member of a multicultural family, separated by an ocean.

Da Pi Yuan is an exploration, an homage, and a love letter to my first home. It is a document of my journey into deepening and embracing what it means to be Chinese Canadian.

Lucy Lu, Nai Nai, 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist

Lucy Lu, Nai Nai, 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist

Indeed, this story of longing and nostalgia is shared amongst many in the Chinese-Canadian community even beyond Toronto. Fête Chinoise agrees that friends in our audiences born in Canada and those who came as children, may have struggles with identity as they mature. As Lucy shared with the Globe and Mail, there was a new lifestyle to adapt to when she moved here in Canada:

“Not only were the lifestyle and customs of these two countries so completely different, but I felt compelled to adjust to my new life as quickly as possible in order to feel a sense of belonging. I’m not sure when it was that I stopped speaking Mandarin and became fully fluent in English, but my parents describe it to me as if one day a switch had been flipped.”

We are happy to see Lucy Lu capture and rediscover her family history and past in Xi’an and to live vicariously through their vivid memories “with a home that [we may] no longer belong to.”


Lucy Lu, Lianhu Park, 2017, inkjet print. Courtesy of the artist.

Lucy Lu: 大皮院 (Da Pi Yuan)

Venue: Student Gallery, Ryerson Image Centre,
33 Gould Street, Toronto ON M5B 1W1

Dates: Now until October 20

Gallery Hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 11AM – 6PM
Wednesday: 11AM – 8PM
Thursday: 11AM – 6PM
Friday: 11AM – 6PM
Saturday: 12PM – 5PM
Sunday: 12PM – 5PM