“The 7 Train” (2023). Oil on canvas. 48″ by 48″

This week we welcome Lily & Honglei, an Asian immigrant artist collaborative whose practice encompasses painting, installation, and time-based media. Often inspired by East Asian cultural heritages, their work focuses on the Asian immigrant experience, history, and identity.

“Job Experiences of Lao Liu.” Oil on canvas. 60″ by 144″

Lily & Honglei have presented their work at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Queens Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, the Whitney Museum of American Art, 601Artspace, The Painting Center the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, the Asian American Art Alliance in New York, Dumbo Arts Festival, the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, the He Xiangning Art Museum in Shenzhen, Shanghai University Gallery, and SIGGRAPH Asia, to name a few. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has showcased Lily & Honglei’s public art projects at multiple city parks.

“Statue of Immigration” (2023). Oil on canvas. 60″ by 48″

Lily & Honglei are recipients of a Creative Capital award in visual arts and film/moving image, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a New York State Council on the Arts grant,, and a Queens Council on the Arts grant, among others. More Art, Korea Art Forum, and the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning have commissioned Lily & Honglei to create public art projects in New York City. Many art historians, including Margaret Hillenbrand and Angela Becher, have discussed their art practice extensively.

“Our Broadway Showcase” (2022). Oil on canvas. 72″ by 48″

In their words:

“Since immigrating to the States in the early 2000s, we have worked as a wife and husband artist collaborative. Having spent significant portions of our lives in the U.S. and China, our work comments on both societies. Our art practice combines painting with installation and time-based media. Asian visual traditions, including ink painting and decorative arts, inspire us to create unique artistic expressions for our immigrant experiences.

The visual forms of our work are often symbolic. We are especially interested in ancient Eastern art traditions such as shadow puppetry, textile art, and kite design, which have experienced sharp declines due to recent industrialization. Our current projects integrate traditional Eastern patterns and motifs with Western metropolitan landscapes to depict the life and history of Asian immigrants. The artworks visualize personal experiences such as family life, work, travel, and cultural heritage, highlighting many struggles in immigrant life, including the long-term separation of family members, challenging working conditions, and societal bias. Through contemporary art language, we endeavor to create more representations for our community.

We work enthusiastically with the Asian immigrant community in NYC. Taking forms of large-scale painting series and installations, our artworks are not only exhibited in galleries and museums but also in public spaces such as neighborhood parks and squares. Integrating Eastern aesthetics with Asian immigrants’ reality, we endeavor to deliver our unique artistic visions to a diverse audience.” 

“42nd Street” (2023). Oil on canvas, 48″ by 48″

See more of Lily & Honglei’s work on their Instagram & website.

Nitin is a visual designer, gallery artist, and community arts activist. Past desk-oriented posts include: PBS, Digitas, K12, Inc., Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and Sesame Workshop International....

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