By Jenny Kaplan
For more than 49 years internationally celebrated artist Potenza has been creating work that communicates the message of global peace. She has been invited numerous times to present her work for some of the world’s most influential leaders, including His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the United Nations.
She has created THE HEARTS OF THE WORLD, a unique interpretation of each country’s national symbol, the flag, which she creates and transforms onto canvas utilizing the colors, shapes and spirit of that nation into a heart – a universally recognized symbol.
The “Hearts” project is just one of numerous collections Potenza has created.
Others include “Conversation”, in which hundreds of faces are expressed in 150 paintings to explore the different “masks” humanity takes on: the classic, the primitive, the enlightened, the religious, the angry, the sad, the happy and so on.
“Blessed Are Women” is a project honoring women through the ages by recognizing the significance of their power. Like all of Potenza’s work, this series is about creating an opportunity for dialogue, specifically to unite women and bring forth their power individually and collectively.
Other collections include “Caught on Camera”, “Cell Phones”,”Landscapes”, “
Hieroglyphics”, “Loving Dance”, “Lovers”, “Mother and Child” and “Father and Child”, in fact there are 50 in all. Potenza says for her it takes an entire series to fully explore a subject and express it. For example, “Conversation” has been a 30 year on-going discussion, if you will, on canvas. Inspiration came from a 1979 visit to artist Isamu Noguchi’s studio where she viewed one of his sculptures in progress. Potenza recalls, “It was huge, massive, and it represented to me the greatness of human creativity. I was in awe of his vision of the human being past, present and future.” This theme re-surfaces again and again in Potenza’s work. To her it represents the greatness of the human spirit. She says, “That’s when I started working in series and it has proved to be the most important aspect of my work; that I keep evolving creatively like this. I can pick up and continue on a theme years after I’ve started it. Doing this constantly brings surprises to the work.”
One series Potenza completed is a captivating set of passionate portraits she’s calling her “Sepatula” series. The name comes from a typo. The artist was writing to a friend describing the work and misspelled the word spatula. She had been explaining how the paint is applied onto the canvas, the name stuck and her “Sepatula Period” was born. Created using house paint and applied only with a spatula this powerful series full of bold colorful strokes is a continuation of the “Conversation” and “Expression” collections and means to further capture and convey the incredibly diverse faces of the human race.
Another project, a sculpture called “We the People - Constitution Park” is a monument to the Constitution of the United States. The monument consists of 50 thirty-foot tall columns, one for each state, which spells out aerially in lights, “We the People”. Each wall built from stone will feature a large red, white and blue stained glass star which lights up at night. A bronze plaque at each wall names its state and history; each wall will be ground-lit also in red, white and blue. Within the park there will be arches and landscaping to walk through. An amphitheatre and museum are also in development stages to be added later. Thus far 10 different parks have been designed for different countries.