Thursday Oct. 19th, Salisbury University Art Galleries in downtown Salisbury held Lola Panco’s artist talk. Panco spoke on what fuels her artistic practice and her journey of self-expression.
Originally from Belarus, Panco felt influence from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Academy of Art to follow specific rules and procedures to create. In 2011, Panco came to the US and began painting her own way.
“I wanted to make sense of my experiences,” she said. “I wanted to show memory, nostalgia, belonging, the ability to connect, touch, trust, the desire to be seen and different relationships.”
Using herself as a subject, Panco began painting a different perspective with multiple mediums. Reactions to her work began to shift her feelings on beauty and what she wanted to portray.
Feedback on Panco’s self-portraits related her work to narcissism and addressing the male gaze. Depictions of Panco’s self-portraits were seen more as sex objects.
“I wanted to be seen for who I was and not what people wanted,” she said. “Pretty means surface level... just a pretty image, I never saw my work as pretty.”
Brooke Rogers, an abstract painter and SU professor, teaches mostly first and second year students at SU. As part of his course, students meet weekly to listen to artist talks at SU’s art gallery. Panco was a student in the same class, learning different techniques, approaches, and stories behind works as she attended other artist’s talks during her time at SU.
“It was an exciting window into what she has become,” Rogers said. “I’m an abstract painter, it’s hard to not take away something and put it into my work.”
Panco emphasized finding your own voice and identity through different mediums. She experimented with different techniques such as monoprints.
Molly Olszewski, a senior at SU, uses art as her own form of therapy, creating pieces to find a sense of peace. She found Panco’s journey of self-expression important to understand, as an audience only sees the final piece.
“She [Panco] was able to be personable with us,” she said. “It was my favorite artist talk by far.”
Bryleigh Foreman is also a ceramics major at SU and uses carving to feel more in the moment when stressed. She enjoys hearing what fuels an artist to create, more specifically the story behind each piece.
“Hearing the artist talks really helps understand the process, when she explained how and why, I can feel the energy behind it,” Foreman said. “Once it’s important to them, it’s important to you.”
By KAYLEE BERENDS
Featured images courtesy of Kaylee Berends