Amy Caterina brings a playful touch to art

Amy Caterina working with her studentCOMMUNITY PROFILE.

I crumple a piece of paper and don’t recycle it. I feel guilty. It makes me think of my place in the natural world as I write about Santa Ana College design professor, interactive artist, and environmental commentator Amy Caterina.

Along with three others, she is the newest artist-in-residence at the Orange County Great Park. Caterina will be designing site-specific public projects that showcase a variety of mediums such as knitted objects, photography and video.

When the Great Park put out a call for its artist-in-residence program, the themes of sustainability and recycling struck a chord with Caterina, whose work conveys a similar message.

Caterina, who grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., earned her M.F.A. in photography from California State University, Fullerton. She has participated in several residency programs since 2006.

Her current photography at the park is titled “In Case You Get Lost.” Her objective is to photograph every visitor who comes to her studio for the duration of her residency.

“I will stare at the subject and they will stare at me. It is honest and simple,” she said. Reminiscent of the missing persons posters after 9/11, and in recognition of the mortality we all share, each photograph serves as a document for recollection
and reflection.

Interconnectivity plays a big role in Caterina’s life, and in turn in her art. As a Buddhist, she believes that we are all connected to our environment and everything around us. “Making art is as integral to my existence as inhaling and exhaling,” she said. She does not consider her life as an artist to be separate from her life as a teacher, wife, friend and godmother. She strives to make her surroundings, including her classroom, “a place where play is encouraged, humor is mandatory, and mistakes can be reinterpreted as opportunities for new adventures.”

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