A mural by San Diego artist Cat Chiu Phillips, on display in Rosemead. Photo credit: Courtesy IW Group

The pandemic has cost us a lot. Artists too.

That was the case for San Diego-based artist and educator Cat Chiu Phillips, known for reclaiming discarded items and making them into something new.

Her latest materials? One hundred cereal boxes.

That’s because IW Group, an intercultural agency based in Los Angeles, came calling after she had been forced to set aside projects due to the consequences of COVID-19.

The firm wanted an artist to take a product that brought them joy as kids and find a way to pass on those memories to others.

Phillips, inspired, focused on her recollections of enjoying cereal for breakfast, and combined that with the family-friendly folklore of Chang’e, the Goddess of the Moon, to produce a mural that honors her Chinese heritage.

The timing worked too as the Mid-Autumn Festival – also known as the Moon Festival – begins Thursday. Meanwhile, Walmart provided the space to display Phillips’ creation at its supercenter in Rosemead, east of Los Angeles.

She said she’s been thrilled by the project.

“If I can bring a little cheer to the world and show people that they can create beauty from things
they often take for granted, my work has purpose.” said Phillips, whose art has been featured in the San Diego International Airport, two Westfield shopping centers, Horton Plaza and UTC, and in projects in Solana Beach and Vista.

One piece of Phillips work in progress. Photo credit: @catchiuphillips, via Instagram

In the mural, Phillips, who is Filipina-American, but ethnically Chinese, used Kellogg’s cereal boxes to recreate an image of Chang’e, a central figure for the season.

Chang’e serves as a symbol of love, family gatherings, and a time to share stories.

“I brought my daughter with me to Walmart because I wanted to share this part of my heritage with her and the community,” Phillips said. “Life is art and art is an integral part of our lives. It has the power to connect us in so many critical ways.”

The project benefitted local communities in other ways too. Associates at the Walmart store pitched in to pack old boxes for Phillips’ use and help deliver the cereal to a group called Rescuing Leftover Cuisine.

They in turn donated it to food banks and shelters, which have seen a sharp increase in those in need due to the pandemic.

Phillips’ mural will be on display at Walmart Rosemead for one month.

– Staff reports

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