Katerina Lanfranco has come a long way since she graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2001 with a BA degree in art.
Lanfranco is now a professional artist living in Brooklyn. She is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery, and currently teaches at the Museum of Modern Art, LIM College, and Fordham University in New York City.
This winter quarter, Lanfranco returned to Santa Cruz to work with 10 students from UCSC’s Artand History of Art and Visual Culture departments to create an ambitious exhibition at Porter College’s Sesnon Gallery.
As Sesnon Gallery director Shelby Graham describes it: “We had a living and breathing studio experience; we turned the gallery into a student workshop.”
The UCSC alumna worked with Graham and the students to create Natural Selection, a large-scale, hand-cut paper installation created specifically for the Sesnon Gallery space.
“It’s partially sharing information, and partly debunking myths,” says Lanfranco. “Things like studio practices—you might assume that professional artists have clear plans mapped out from the beginning.”
“Or it’s challenging the myth of the solitary genius artist,” she added. “Art can be a collaborative experience, you don’t have to look so far for inspiration or engagement.”
“I think sometimes people are afraid of pursuing art,” Lanfranco observed. “So I try to lessen that fear by sharing my own processes—keeping the thrill, but taking the fear and mystery out of it.”
When she first flew in from New York, Lanfranco asked the groundskeeper at Porter College for a tour of the trees around the college, which influenced the design of the project.
Responding to the environment, she then had the student apprentices do research and study technical aspects of the project to get them inspired and help them understand the artistic process.
“I really see it as a reciprocal experience,” said Lanfranco. “The more I feel the generosity of the students, the more I want to give back. It’s been a really great experience.”
The students seemed to unanimously agree.