Below a Sea of Stars
This is to let you know that the next exhibition at Nancy Hoffman Gallery's new Chelsea space at 520 West 27th Street will be a multi-media installation entitled "Below a Sea of Stars" by Katerina Lanfranco. The exhibition, which includes sculpture in glass and in fabric, paintings in oil and cutouts, opens on January 8 and continues through February 21.
"Below a Sea of Stars," is an outgrowth of the artist's work inspired by her fascination with the living world around her and her experience of working in the Entomology Department at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2000. Her 2006 triptych installation at Nancy Hoffman Gallery was "Ursus Horribilis," addressing the American myth of the grizzly bear in life-sized sculpture, encased in a vitrine, a diorama in the style of natural history museum installations and framed by a painting of creationism on one side and evolutionism on the other. For Lanfranco the ideational component takes front and center as she embarks on the creation of a body of work. Her conceptualization of "Below a Sea of Stars" started with multiple readings, theoretical and other non-fiction as well as fiction, among them 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Moby Dick. Fueled with the intellectual underpinnings she needed to source the energy for her installation, she embarked on her most ambitious project to date. She not only conceptualized the totality of her show, but also began to view the experiential nature of the exhibition as
a walk-through of different spaces, two-dimensional and three-dimensional, environ-mental, pictorial as well as discovery of artifact, deep sea, galactic, cutouts of black paper, jewel-like sculptures in glass, a discovery at every turn.
Lanfranco says: "The seeds of inspiration for "Below a Sea of Stars" were planted a long time ago. I remember being struck by the unusual and beautiful forms of sea anemones and jellyfish during a childhood visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I marveled at Hubble Space Telescope images that documented unparalleled elegant forms emerging out of an incomprehensible cosmos. Later, as I swam in the ocean looking out into the vanishing horizon contemplating this, my peripheral vision filled with the meeting of sea and sky, leading me to the central theme, the conflation of deep space and deep sea, which functions metaphorically as a place that rests at the brink of discovery and self-knowledge--the last frontier of geographic discovery."
Upon entering the gallery one encounters a large floor sculpture, a sea-like space creature with some ancestral relationship to an octopus with tentacles sewn of sea foam green fabric, spiky yet soft, surrounded by a white exoskeletal pod. This invented creature--hybrid plant/animal--springs forth from a bed of fabric-sewn rocks. From its top blossoms a stalk with a jewel-encrusted peak nestled for protection in golden orange petals with a spiral of glass pods stretching out on its sides, each pod a glass mushroom top of wonder.
Of her glass installation Constellations, Lanfranco says: "(Constellations) functions both at micro and macro levels and slides between representing cosmic forms and deep sea specimens." Referencing the tradition of the paperweight she says: " it fits with the
Victorian era desire to domesticate and re-create nature within cultural categories,
and represents sentimental geography, a world encapsulated in a watery distorted and amorphous state."
Coinciding with the artist's view of deep sea/space as the last frontier of geographic discovery, the exhibition is a discovery from the time one enters the gallery to the
time one completes the tour. From two-dimensional black botanical cutouts, to two- dimensional oil paintings of a nether space, to a garden of three-dimensional glass sculptures sparkling on shelves, to the hybrid creature, Lanfranco takes us on her own voyage of discovery into another "deep" nether space, neither sea nor sky, a magical world.
Katerina M. Lanfranco was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada in 1978. She received
an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Hunter College, City University of New York and a B.A.
in Art as well as a B.A. in Visual Theory and Museum Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. She was a recipient of the Tony Smith Award, Hunter College. The artist's work has been shown at many galleries in Santa Cruz, San Jose and San Francisco, California, New York, Berlin and Toronto. Her work is included in The Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawing Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
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