Student Art Spotlight: Challenging the unknown

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, April 11th, 2019 at 9:20 AM
Student Art Spotlight: Challenging the unknown by Jamie Heinrich
Photo: Jamie Heinrich

Coffee in hand and with a smile that shined brighter than her freshly shaved head, Katie Lentz stands as an emerging leader within the art community at ‘Boro. As a freshman, her realistic interpretations of sculpture and form have even gained some notice in the local area, with the possibility of helping design a sculpture in a community park. 

 Lentz reflected on how she sees her home city of Erie, Pennsylvania. “I think it is a beautiful place that has a rough recent history.” 

As a result, Lentz has a desire to help rebuild the beauty in Erie through community projects. She has an opportunity to do this by working with ServErie, a non-profit organization based in Erie’s inner city. One of their goals is to revitalize the downtown area. Lentz volunteered to help ServErie clear out where they’re planning to build a community park.

 “They were working on clearing out all of this brick and rubble that had been laying there from the building they had just torn down. They were about to load it all onto a truck when I said, ‘wait a minute, can I make a sculpture out of that for this park?’” 

As of now, the plans are a “work in progress,” as the sculpture portion of the project has been put on hold. 

The goal of the sculpture is to be a “community-based design.” Lentz desires input on what the sculpture should be, and wants it to be influenced heavily by the neighborhood in which it will reside. The hope is that, by involving the neighborhood, the sculpture “is not just superimposed upon them from someone who is far away.”

Elsewhere, she remains busy with a continued study of the human form, as well as a bust and a figure sculpture of two different models for her sculpting class at EU.     

Ava Lenart, a long-time friend and peer of Lentz, described her as a leader amongst some of her fellow art students, while also speaking to her motivation. 

“Katie can excel in pretty much anything she puts her mind to…If she sets her mind [to] something, there’s nothing stopping her from reaching it.” Lenart went further, adding, “Katie is extremely loving and caring; she is driven and motivated about the things she cares about (which is a lot).”

 Lentz displayed two of her sculptures in the SFEM (Sculpture Fibers and Extended Media) Club show in Bates Gallery this past year. She was grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the SFEM Club at EU as a freshman, explaining that working with many of the more experienced club members has helped her grow as an artist.

Lentz also just completed what she called a “Month of Uncomfortable Things.” She started the project March 1 as a way to combat her anxiety. She began “doing anything and everything I was afraid of doing, or that made me uncomfortable — as long as it was something good for me and the people around me.” 

Throughout the month she completed a daily task that she deemed uncomfortable. Some were seemingly silly challenges, such as wearing a flip-flop on one foot and a sneaker on the other to the airport, while others were more difficult undertakings, such as having conversations she had been afraid of having. She even went so far as to make a 400-yard swim into the Atlantic Ocean to combat her fear of open water. “The water was opaque, so my fear of open water and water that I can’t see into screamed, ‘No!’ But I did it anyway,” she explained. 

Lentz ended the month with what she thought was “the scariest thing, socially, that I could do.” She changed her appearance. “I thought, I am terrified of being bald and what people would think. So, I shaved my head down to the skin on the last day of the month. I’ve broken myself of tying my identity so deeply with my appearance.”

Overall, Lentz indicated this will be a start of a positive trend, in which she will continue to take risks for her art throughout her college career and beyond. 

Jamie Heinrich |

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