National Renown Artist Finds Purpose in Repurposing Trash
Rosemead, Calif. — Sept. 21, 2020 — Childhood memories enjoying cereal for breakfast served as the inspiration for reaching out to Cat Chiu Phillips, an artist known for reclaiming discarded items and making them into works of beauty. Add in a national retailer, Walmart, that has wall space at its supercenter in Rosemead, Calif., and Phillips had the perfect canvas to surprise the associates and customers of the store.
But the story doesn’t end here.
Phillips, who saw some of her projects fade away due to the coronarvirus pandemic, searched for opportunities to engage in meaningful work. When IW Group, an intercultural agency based in Los Angeles, called to brainstorm an idea, she was all in. IW Group team members wanted take a product that brought them joy as kids and find a way to pass on those joyful childhood memories to others. The family-friendly folklore of Chang’e, the Goddess of the Moon, offered a perfect opportunity to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival—beginning on Oct. 1—and create a work of beauty.
“When I heard about this project to reimagine how to use discarded Kellogg’s cereal boxes and make a mural that would adorn a wall at Walmart, I was thrilled,” said Phillips, whose work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and other major art organizations. “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.”
Phillips, who is Filipina American but ethnically Chinese, agreed to use the cereal boxes to recreate an image of Chang’e, a central figure for the Mid-Autumn Moon season. Chang’e symbolizes love, family gatherings, and a time to share stories with those you care about. Adds Phillips, “I brought my daughter with me to Walmart because I wanted to share this a part of my heritage with her and the community. 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 cereal contained within the repurposed boxes was enthusiastically collected and donated to local food banks and shelters by Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, another organization impacted by COVID-19.
“I was thrilled to hear about the donation of cereal to our organization,” said Robert Lee, co- founder and CEO of Rescuing Leftover Cuisine. “With a rise in those in need, having the opportunity to donate cereal for families and kids is wonderful. We are grateful to have the support during this difficult time.”
Walmart Rosemead associates played an active role from beginning to end, labeling the cereal’s content, packing the used boxes for shipment, and bringing the donated cereal packages to a volunteer from Rescuing Leftover Cuisine.
“At Walmart, being part of the communities we serve is important to our customers and our associates,” said Roz Silva, director of Digital Advocacy. “We are so proud of our associates for their support and are pleased to be able to play a role in uplifting the communities we serve.”
The mural will be on display at Walmart Rosemead for one month.