Catherine Panebianco Interview - The Hopper Prize

Catherine Panebianco

Catherine Panebianco on the magic of photography, visual self expression, creating a trail of memories, & using the environment as a studio.

How did you get into making art?

I took a roundabout way to photographing. I was a business major but always knew I wanted to photograph. Finally in my late 20s I decided to take a black and white darkroom class. Once I saw that first print come up in the developer, I was hooked and never looked back. Photography has always been like a little, piece of magic for me. And it finally gave me a way to express my feelings without saying a word. As an introvert, it was life-changing in terms of how I could communicate.

What are you currently working on?

The project I’ve been working on for four years is No Memory is Ever Alone, a visual conversation between me and my dad. I am finishing this project up and will have a book published in September 2021 with Yoffy Press. I am at the beginnings of a new project about animal and human souls. It is in the infancy stage but I’m excited to photograph more and possibly use alternative processes to create the final images.

Once I saw that first print come up in the developer, I was hooked and never looked back.

Catherine Panebianco

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

For No Memory is Ever Alone, is is my dad and the slides he brought out every Christmas and made us all look at every year. He photographed these slides in his late teens and early 20s and made us view them on an old projector on our living room wall telling the same stories every year. It was a consistent memory from a childhood where we moved a lot and I never felt like I had a steady “place” to live and create memories. One day, while doing a 365 project for Instagram, I realized if I held the slides in my current landscape, I created not only a connection between his life and mine, but a trail of memories. A lot of these slides are of my mom, they were together almost 60 years. She passed away a few years ago and I feel like her spirit, and all the spirits of the past, are constantly around us. These little vignettes of family life in my current “space” comforts me that she and others are still near, watching over me. The create a “home” for me wherever I go.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I have a mixed approach but I do like to work on distinct projects. It just helps me focus on the story. But I am always photographing outside the project I’m working on as that is where my new ideas come from, by playing and experimenting.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

I don’t have a physical studio. My environment is my studio. I photograph my surroundings both inside and outside. I do have a place where I do my digital work (but it moves around, sometimes inside, sometimes on my back porch) and a darkroom in my basement that I’m hoping to get back to as I miss the “hands on” analog processes.

Who are your favorite artists?

I love strong photographers who tell a uniquely personal story through their art. Too many to mention them all, but artists such as: Cig Harvey, Sally Mann, Mikael Owunna, Jerry Takigawa and JP Terlizzi to name just a few.

Where do you go to discover new artists?

I definitely find a lot of artists on Instagram but also through photography resources like Lenscratch and LensCulture. And, of course, when we could go to galleries and museums, I love seeing new work up close and personal.

Catherine Panebianco is an artist based in Jamestown, New York who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist:

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