UToledo School of Visual and Performing Arts

Inside the Panorama: Q&A with Natalie Lanese

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An outside view of the installation in progress. Photo by Natalie Lanese

PANORAMA, an installation by Natalie Lanese, combines collage and pop patterns to set up narratives that address, oftentimes humorously, the more serious realities of American culture. Lanese’s massive scale patterns transform into a geometric landscape in which the collaged elements create conceptual spaces and confront ideas of image vs. reality, depth, and depthlessness.

On Friday night, August 23, from 6-8 p.m., join us for the opening of “PANORAMA,” an eye-popping installation of pulsating stripes and pastries. Meet the artist, Natalie Lanese, and experience the CVA Gallery as you’ve never seen it before.

Natalie was kind enough to tell us a bit about her art, her work process, and her inspirations.

For folks who haven’t had the benefit of watching this installation unfold over the past few weeks, what is your process for developing and creating an installation like this? How long does it take to create? Do you have help?

I usually have a general idea of the shape of the piece before I begin, but I do all of the decision-making in the gallery. Since these installations are site-specific, I have to respond to the space and design the work in the gallery. The dark gray walls in the CVA Gallery required that I paint the area white before adding color. Then I draw the pattern on the wall and start painting. For this piece, painting took almost 2 full weeks. I had the help of some very generous students in the second week. The final few days are spent working on the collage: printing, cutting out the shapes, and adhering them to the wall.

Who are some artists who inform your work?

Pop art has informed the way I think about making art for a long time. Warhol has always been a huge influence. Lately I’ve been looking at painting and murals by Maya Hayuk, and at Jessica Stockholder. I also saw a show of Alex de Corte’s work recently that got me thinking.

What types of media/creativity inspire you?

Old magazines, movies, textile design, popular culture, interior design.

How long do your installations typically remain on display? How do you think differently about painting when you’re making something to hang on a wall versus when you’re making a (possibly) ephemeral installation?

The installations are displayed for about a month, usually. My permanent works usually take a little longer to make, because I have more time to spend on them. I often spend a week or two painting and spend a few more weeks on the collage. The biggest difference with installation is I usually only have about a week to create it. So I have to have a lot of decisions made before I get in the gallery. It requires more advanced planning and preparation than my typical studio practice. The painting itself is way more physical at this scale than my small works on paper–as opposed to sitting at a table, I’m on ladders, laying on the floor, kneeling down– it’s a very different experience.

What is an art experience that changed you in some way?

Seeing Marina Abramovic’s show, The Artist is Present, at the MoMA a few years ago. I had studied her work before that, but I had never experienced it in person. It was so much more powerful than I expected. I think I cried in front of one of the pieces.

What do you doodle, when you doodle?

Geometric patterns.

Are there spaces in your life that make you feel the same way as being in a room with one of your installations?

I think of it the other way around–I recreate the spaces I’ve experienced. PANORAMA is a mountainscape. I want people to feel small when they enter the space. It should be overwhelming, in a good way.

In what ways do you think of these installations as two-dimensional versus experiential? What do you anticipate the installations lead an audience to think about?

The work is 2-dimensional, but my favorite thing about my medium is playing with depth vs. flatness. I’ve been pushing that more and more with the painted aspects of the work. When it comes time to collage, there’s nothing like stepping back and feeling like the wall isn’t really flat, that some areas recede and others feel closer. This space allowed me to wrap the piece around the viewer, which I haven’t done before. It introduces a whole new set of problems and things to think about. It becomes a little more 3-dimensional.

I think there is a very different experience when a work is made specifically for (and on) a space. Visitors have to consider that the work was made on-site and that it’s altering the space in some way. Of course I want the scale to impact them. I’m not sure what people think about in front of my work. The imagery is usually something most people can relate to, so at the very least, someone is thinking about donuts.

PANORAMA will be on display through September 28 at the Center for Visual Arts Gallery, located next to the Toledo Museum of Art at 620 Grove Place. The opening reception will be held on Friday, August 23 from 6-8 p.m. at the Center for Visual Arts Gallery. For more information, contact Gallery Director Ben Pond.

Natalie Lanese has recently exhibited at Jack the Pelican Presents in Brooklyn, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA, Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, and Scope International Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland. Lanese is Assistant Professor of Art and Gallery Director at Siena Heights University in Adrian, MI and resides in Toledo, Ohio. 

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