The mural “Sweet Dreams” by the artist Luyu.

The mural “Sweet Dreams” by the artist Luyu.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

‘We all have a soft spot for treats,’ artist behind new Pilsen mural says

The artist who goes by the name Luyu says she hopes the mural on Racine Avenue near 16th Street helps people feel “their sweet dreams rekindled.” And maybe they’ll want to stop for ice cream, too.

A new mural in Pilsen doesn’t just celebrate sweets but also how sugary treats can make us feel good.

“In this piece, my character dons a whipped cream Teddy bear costume, cradling a bubble tea,” says its creator, the artist who goes by the name Luyu, who painted the piece on a viaduct on Racine Avenue near 16th Street in August as part of a larger effort to beautify the space.

“Seated atop an ice cream unicorn, they float along a cotton candy river in the sprinkled rain, surrounded by a delectable array of desserts, including hard candy, gummy bears, lemon cheesecake, croissants, pie, pancakes, cupcakes and cookies,” Luyu says, “Desserts have been a constant source of comfort throughout my life, invoking nostalgia and emotion.

“It’s fascinating how the sweetness of life can be intertwined with joyful and challenging moments, much like the bittersweetness of indulging in a lovely treat.

Luyu works on her mural in Pilsen.

Luyu works on her mural in Pilsen.


“I hope everyone who encounters my mural feels their sweet dreams rekindled — and perhaps even feels inspired to indulge in some ice cream afterward, keeping the emptiness at bay.”

Luyu says she’s from Chengdu, China, “and my journey has taken me across continents to Memphis and eventually to Chicago.

“My artistic journey was sparked by my grandfather, a talented painter, though I must admit that, as a youngster, traditional ink drawing didn’t captivate me.

“Upon arriving in the United States, art transformed into my refuge, shielding me from the loneliness and isolation of adapting to a new world.”

She says she explored different “forms of artistic expression, from oil painting and fashion design to collage, architecture design, photography, sculpture and printmaking.

A wider look at the Racine Avenue viaduct where Luyu and other artists created murals in August.

A wider look at the Racine Avenue viaduct where Luyu and other artists created murals in August.

Robert Herguth / Sun-Times

“Later, my focus shifted toward digital art, including 3D modeling and animation, during my illustration and graphic design studies,” Luyu says. “Despite my digital adventures, I still cherish the physical feeling of painting and sculpting.”

The mural, titled “Sweet Dreams,” was her “first foray into spray paint and mural creation.

“I saw it as a canvas to infuse cuteness and sweetness into the environment,” the artist says. “My goal was to craft something universally appealing that would resonate with adults and children because, let’s face it, we all have a soft spot for sweets.”

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