Brooklyn, NY artist Katerina Lanfranco spoke Thursday Feb. 17 about her artwork at the University of Tennessee's McCarty Auditorium.
"I make art as a way to understand and think about the world that I live in,"Lanfranco said
Lanfranco grew up in several different parts of the world including Toronto and India. She was exposed to art at an early age in her parents' home where a particular Matisse painting sparked a curiosity.
Her parents had conflicting artistic tastes which opened the door for Lanfranco, revealing many different artistic styles.
The first element of her talk focused on her thesis show at Hunter College called "The Creation of Ursus Horribilis." This panoramic creation can be seen at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery in New York City.
"This is a piece that came out of a desire to create a life-size diorama and relate it to this idea of genetic engineering and animal mutation and how that mutation came about. Basically the evolution of life," Lanfranco said of her thesis show.
Lanfranco draws most of her inspiration from nature. Her art often uses metaphors of nature and how it translates into culture.
In the second segment of her talk, Lanfranco shared thoughts and pictures about her "Below a Sea of Stars" installation. This creation was inspired by the unknown elements of the deep sea and outer space.
"I am interested in exploring a variety of art materials to explore meta-narratives such as ideas of progress and systems f knowledge, and how they function to reinforce cultural ideaologies and create meaning in regards to the natural world." -Katarina Lanfranco During a stay in Miami, Lanfranco collected several sea sponges. These sea sponges are what launched the inspiration and creation of "Below a Sea of Stars."
"I thought, 'what are these things?' Theyre animals but they look like plants, they're inorganic, but they're organic, they smell like death. Where do they come from?'
"We know more about the moon than we do about the deep sea. And it was fascinating to think what could be out there that we don't know about. So I thought about that for a while and this is what came out of it," Lanfranco said as she showed the audience the end result of her construction.
On her website, Lanfranco references to her use of creative practices such as: "botanical illustrations, flora fabric patterns, curiosity cabinets, scientific field notes, as well as natural history styled dioramas and panoramas."
Her collection of artwork includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, cut outs and installations. Lanfranco delights in pioneering new artistic techniques.
"I am interested in exploring a variety of art materials to explore meta-narratives such as ideas of progress and systems of knowledge, and how they function to reinforce cultural ideologies and create meaning in regards to the natural world," Lanfranco said in her artist statement.
Hand cut paper, flame-worked glass, clay and acrylic paint are just a few of the resources Lanfranco uses for her creations.
Her website, which is also available in Japanese, includes an online portfolio, information about her inspiration, and links to her blog and Twitter where fans can follow her work.
Lanfranco's travels and accomplishments took her around the world and back again
Lanfranco has been cultivating her craft for several years. Most recently, in 2010 she participated in a US-Japan National Endowment for the Arts residency.
There, she was one of the "US-Japan Friendship Commission Arts Fellows" and studied in Kyoto, Japan for six months. Her stay in Kyoto focused on paper cut-outs, flower arranging and woodblock prints.
By allowing artists to stay in a one place and focus, art residencies are designed to help artists such as Lanfranco nurture their creativity.
Lanfranco graduated with a B.A. from The University of California in Santa Cruz, Ca. in 2001 with dual honors. She completed separate degrees in Art and in Visual Theory and Museum Studies.
Her studies at The University of California focused on painting.
In 2004, she traveled to Berlin, Germany where she studied as an exchange scholar at the Universität der Künst.
Two years later in 2006 she continued her education at Hunter College, City University of New York, in New York City, where she was president of the Master of Fine Arts Student Organization. There, she received an M.F.A., Master of Fine Arts, in Studio Art.
That same year she received the Tony Smith Award, the highest award given to a graduating M.F.A. student.
To date Lanfranco has shown several solo art shows and been featured in many group shows.
She has served on as a panel member for several art institutions and organizations. She is also a member of the College Art Association, the Women's art group, and tART.
Lanfranco's final words to the fellow artists in the audience were, "Travel as much as you can."