On June 20 an exhibition of two new bodies of work by Katerina Lanfranco opens
at Nancy Hoffman Gallery and continues through August 2. The artist has written about “Wildflowers & Floating Worlds,” discussing her materials, her sources, her inspirations. What Lanfranco says illuminates both series for her solo show, that combine to form a captivating installation of mixed media botanical sculptures and shadow box assemblages of otherworldly landscapes.
“Wildflowers & Floating Worlds” continues my exploration of nature, science and fantasy. Central to these works is creating order in nature through classification and framing, as well as inventing landscapes with otherworldly flora and fauna.
“The “Wildflowers” series is inspired by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka’s exquisite glass flowers at The Harvard Museum of Natural History. The Blaschka Flowers are a testament to the art of flameworking, and a feverish commitment to documenting nature through artistic means. Like Victorian museum specimens that isolate, romanticize, and classify wonders of nature, the “Wildflowers” are meant to feel like newly discovered botanical forms, individually framed in linen-backed shadowboxes and labeled with Latin names. The “Wildflowers” sculptures are made of flameworked glass, beads, fabric and paint. The term “Flora” is included in each label, and refers both to vegetation and the Roman Goddess of flowers, linking science and mythology.
“Floating Worlds” is a series of small-scale otherworldly landscape assemblages.
They are composed of glass, plaster, clay, paint, vintage beads, fabric, pearls and semi-precious stones. Flameworking enables me to capture air in the artwork, either as tiny bubbles or as larger bulb forms. “Floating Worlds” refers to the Japanese woodblock print tradition, ukiyo-e (translates to “floating world”), where images of fleeting beauty, evanescence and impermanence were separated from the mundane everyday. Pattern and color dominate the compositional logic of these pieces. Extending the visual language of each piece, the hand-painted frames act as physical delineations of the works. The “Floating Worlds” landscapes are fleeting and resist understanding based on our existing experiences with nature.
“The urge to create a body of work that includes blooming flowers and imagined landscapes comes partially from my failed efforts to create a garden in Brooklyn. Seduced by a courtyard view and its potential, I moved into an apartment six years
ago, and planted a garden. Realities of urban nature ensued—lack of sunlight, feral cats, pent-up dogs, aggressive squirrels and tossed garbage—I gave up. This work stands as my subconscious attempt to manifest the garden.
“Becoming a mother has also heightened my desire to nurture and facilitate growth. With the recent birth of my daughter, my intuition has deepened as I respond to her non-verbal cues with near animal instinct. This has crossed over into my work in the form of handling fragile materials and responding more intuitively to letting the work develop as it wishes. My choice of mixed media and assemblage for this work was
also influenced by teaching collage and assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art, and engaging with some of my favorite Joseph Cornell boxes as well Kurt Schwitters’s assemblages through close visual analysis and lectures. Both artists straddled a gracious line between logic and intuition. In the end, I feel this work is a testament to the deeply ingrained human instinct and desire to be engaged with nature that many of us yearn for, especially in New York City.”
Katerina M. Lanfranco was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1978. She received
a B.A. in Visual Theory and Museum Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Hunter College, City University of New York.
The artist’s work is included in Cleveland Clinic Art Program, Ohio; Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawing Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York; Special Collections Library, University of Santa Cruz, California and Kupferstichkabinet Museum of Prints and Drawings, Berlin, Germany.
She was a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, Visual Arts Residency in Japan with US-Japan Friendship Commission, Washington, D.C.; Krasner-Pollock Foundation Fellow at Byrdcliffe Artist in Residence Program, Woodstock, New York; Artist-in-Residence, University of California Santa Cruz; Tony Smith Award, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York and was Exchange Scholar, Universitat der Kunst, Berlin, Germany.