Exhibit Description
Isabel’s work explores ethnic, sexual, and gender identity through food, history, and relationships. After learning from BIPOC food justice leaders, such as Robin Wall Kimmerer and Karen Washington, as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine practices, Isabel began to understand that our relationship to food, our environments, and our bodies was much more complex than Western scientific methods could capture and communicate.

Isabel explores what can be considered ‘science’, ‘evidence’, and ‘truth’ by paralleling and contrasting these standards in Eastern and Western perspectives.

Drawing from their identity as an asexual, gender-non-conforming Chinese American growing up in the South, Isabel uses color to express and challenge socially accepted representations of ethnicity, sexuality, and gender.

Yíngyǎng means ‘nutrition’ in Mandarin and sounds similar to the infamous Taoist concept of ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ are two opposing, but interdependent forces or energies. For instance, one should be consuming a balance of ‘warming’ and ‘cooling’ foods, experience both rest and activity, peace and stress.

Through creating this work, Isabel found themes of ‘push and pull’ present in many AA stories: food makes us feel shame and pride, responsibility and opportunity, beauty and cruelty. The purpose of these paintings is to reflect that dualism of the Asian American experience.
Artist Biography
Isabel Lu, MPH, RD, (she/they) is a Chinese American visual artist and health equity researcher born and raised in NC. Isabel studied Western nutritional science as an undergraduate student at Cornell University and then public health and dietetics as a graduate student at UNC Chapel Hill.

After graduating, Isabel became the 2022 Artist in Residence at Durham Art Guild where they developed a participatory body of work exploring identity through food and stories.

Isabel is currently one of the 2023 Emerging Artists in Residence at Artspace in Raleigh where they are focused on using community-driven art to support the well-being of Asian American (AA) creatives and communities in North Carolina.


Artist Name(s): Isabel Lu
Gallery Location: CAM Stairway Gallery
Current Status: Past