Xavier Magazine

New Work in New York

For Natalie Lanese, 2007 was an exciting blur. The 2002 graduate completed her Master of Fine Arts at New York’s storied Pratt Institute in May, and through a series of chance happenings found her art exhibited in venues from New York to Miami to Cleveland to Switzerland. Last spring, when her thesis project was hung at Pratt, a professor Lanese didn’t know saw it. 

“He happened to have a connection with a gallery in Brooklyn,” Lanese says, “and the gallery happened to have a show cancellation the week after my project came down. The gallery owner came over during the week my show was up and asked if I’d be interested in showing my work there. I took hold of the opportunity and did it.”

Quickly setting up the show was no small feat: Lanese creates large installations that combine painting and collage, and are often built around social commentary on gender roles and the expectations of women.

Lanese completed the gallery installation hours before the show opened, but the effort resulted in an offer to be part of a series of art fairs, including one in Switzerland.

Overall, it was pretty heady stuff for an artist fresh out of school—and one still making most of her living as a temp dressing windows at Bergdorf Goodman, the high-end retail store in New York.

Now that the initial flurry is over, Lanese is busy planning her future. She’s back in the studio creating new work and recently started a full-time job in the admission office at Pratt.

“My professors always say you have to be in the right place at the right time,” she says. “What it comes down to is really luck. I’m just trying to keep myself in the right place.”

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