The CENTER Awards: Project Launch Grant Winner: Catherine Panebianco
Congratulations to Catherine Panebianco for being selected for CENTER’s Project launch Grant recognizing her project, No Memory is Ever Alone . The Project Launch is granted to outstanding photographers working on a fine art series or documentary project. The grant includes a cash award to help complete or disseminate the works, as well as providing a platform for exposure and professional development opportunities. This grant is awarded to complete or nearly completed projects that would benefit from the grant award package. The awards include a $5,000 Cash Award, Winners Exhibition at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, free admission to the pre-Review Professional Development Workshop, complimentary participation and presentation at the Review Santa Fe Photo Festival, and an online exhibition at VisitCenter.org
Juror Dr. Rebecca Senf – Chief Curator, Center for Creative Photography & the Norton Family Curator of Photography, Phoenix Art Museum shares her insights:
One of art’s great powers is its subjectivity. It is possible to love art that you alone love, and to despise art that is universally appreciated. (I’ve never been a fan of Wes Anderson movies, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one.) This subjectivity is such a blessing when you come across a poem, podcast, novel, or work of visual art that speaks to you – to your very cells – and you feel connected, understood, and that you resonate with another human, through the experience of their creation.
I juried this Project Launch Grant while working from home, in self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic of Spring 2020. I looked at thousands of photographs, and read the words of hundreds of photographers. I treasured the opportunity to go with them to the places they had been – both literal and imaginative – through their work. I valued the way the artists had opened themselves to their audiences, embracing vulnerability and revealing themselves through their work. Art making is such an act of bravery; and in the context of social distancing, I so appreciated the way our artists create and express to allow the rest of us to share in and learn from their process.
When I saw Catherine Panebianco’s No Memory is Ever Alone it spoke to me, to a place where my own family history is connected by flat yellow boxes of 35mm transparencies, and my father making photographs, and slide shows on the wall of the family room. The materiality of family photographs melded with an exploration of what those family photographs record, which struck a chord and opened up a place deep in me. We know photography is magic. This body of work effectively draws me in to that alchemy and reminds me of its beautiful complexity. I hope supporting this project allows it to reach others who will similarly feel uplifted and engaged by these photographs.
While family and its construction feels so significant right now, my sense of the politics of our nation is looming large as well. What do we value? How do we resolve our differences? How will we address societal inequities that have been made so obvious in this moment of threat? Honorable mentions go to Kathleen Y. Clark (with her project White House China) and Kari Wehrs (with her body of tintypes called Shot), two women who, through the very construction of their work, have engaged creativity, conceptual rigor, and strong aesthetic effect to ask powerful questions about these issues.
Dr. Rebecca Senf is Chief Curator at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Her B.A. in Art History is from the University of Arizona; her M.A. and Ph.D. were awarded by Boston University. In 2012, her book Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe was released by the University of California Press; in 2017, her book To Be Thirteen, showcasing the work of Betsy Schneider, was published by Radius Press and Phoenix Art Museum. Senf is an Ansel Adams scholar, and recently published a book on Ansel Adams’s early years, called Making a Photographer, copublished by the CCP and Yale University Press.
No Memory is Ever Alone
No Memory is Ever Alone is a visual conversation between my dad and I. He used to bring out a box of slides that he photographed in his late teens and early 20s every Christmas 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.
I realized that by placing the slides in my current landscape, I created not only a connection between his life and mine, but a trail of memories, each that had its own association for both of us. A lot of these slides are of my mom, they were together almost 60 years. She passed away recently and I feel like her spirit, and all the spirits of the past, are around us. These little vignettes of family life in my current “space” comforts me that she and others are still near, watching over me. They create a “home” for me wherever I go.
I did not want to Photoshop that connection. Part of the process that was necessary for me was to find the right location and feel my dad’s slides united with how I live today – a place within a place, a memory within a memory.
Catherine Panebianco was born in British Columbia, Canada and currently lives in Jamestown, NY. Her photographs consistently dive into memory and place in time. She feels the spirits of her loved ones are always around, protecting and lifting us up.
Her photography has been exhibited both in the U.S. and internationally. Her series, No Memory is Ever Alone, was named a Top 50 Finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass, won 1st place in the International Photography Awards for fine art, was a finalist for the National Photography Awards for the Texas Photographic Society and a San Francisco Bay International Photography Competition Portfolio Award winner. She presented a solo show at the A. Smith Gallery in Texas for her series, Benny Was A Good Boy, which was also named a Critical Mass Top 200 finalist. Her photography has been shown at the Griffin Museum of Photography, Soho Photo Gallery, the Center for Fine Art Photography, SE Center for Photography and the Erie Art Museum in addition to many other venues. Catherine’s work has also been in numerous publications and she teaches fine art photography workshops to adults and school-aged children.
Catherine’s work from No Memory is Ever Alone will be included in the Top 50 Critical Mass Exhibition at Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California from June 27th to August 2nd. Her series, Benny Was a Good Boy, will be featured in Black & White Magazine April 2019 edition.
Catherine lives in Jamestown, New York with her husband, George (who is a lawyer, but a nice one), in a 1940s farmhouse with a yard that is way too big for them to handle with their non-existent landscaping skills. They share their house with an incredibly mean cat, Gilbert, who is plotting their demise while being tortured by their fat Labrador retriever, Murphy.
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