Johanna Lasner is the Assistant Director at Casey Droege Cultural Productions creating relevant and accessible art experiences in Pittsburgh. She's one of only a few of our artist interviewees to date that have been born and/or lived extensively outside the US. It was a true pleasure to meet with her and discuss her diverse creative practice.
Where are you from?
Guayaquil, Ecuador about an hour off the coast of the Pacific Ocean
What neighborhood do you live in now?
South Hills, Mt. Lebanon. It’s far from work for sure so the commute is pretty intense.
What type of artist are you?
There are 3 components to my practice. One that is the most neglected recently is creating actual tangible objects. And for that I use photography as a medium for exploration.
One of the other components that is critical is the need for academia or theoretical or conceptual elements and that’s when I became a curator. So the curatorial practice became a part of my artistic practice.
The third component that again is very meaningful is the social practice. That’s why working with Casey Droege Cultural Productions is a perfect fit for me. It allows me to really focus on that and it’s something I believe in strongly.
Why do you choose to make art in Pittsburgh?
It was just a random coincidence. I came here for family commitments and soon enough I discovered that the city was just amazing for arts and culture. It gave me the idea that it was happening here so finding a place to collaborate or volunteer was pretty effortless. It’s full of opportunity.
What is your favorite part of being an artist in Pittsburgh?
How strong the artist community is. It’s not only strong, it’s very committed and friendly. I think it’s also gearing toward diversity and inclusion. Many artists here are very supportive of each other so it’s very common to go to exhibits or openings and see a crowd that is familiar.
Also, it’s thriving. Everybody seems to be open to viewing new types of works and trying out new partnerships and collaborations.
What would you love to see more of in the Pittsburgh art scene?
I’d love to see us all working together to get more national exposure and recognition for Pittsburgh artists to be a part of a larger conversation. I think we’re a very proud city and we tend to contain ourselves a bit and we’re not looking outside our box- at least it seems that way. I would love to see the expansion beyond what feels comfortable and explore preponderant artistic discourses as well as international dialogues.
What is your favorite music to jam to in the studio?
We’re very quiet here in the office, but my commute is pretty long so I like to jam in my car. I just love music so I’ll go from latin music to mainstream pop to jazz to WYEP (that’s one of my favorites.)
What other things do you do when you are not making art?
That’s a hard question. I really love to be surrounded by art 24/7. So when I’m not working on making art or programming, I’ll be visiting museums, galleries, or doing studio visits. Apart from that, I love nature so I like to take walks, to read, to make time to catch up with my friends.
What would you tell artists who are just starting out?
I would want everyone to think more about openness. To seek exposure to things they are not familiar with- explore other nationalities, other artists. Remain open and remain humble to opinions. It’s nice for growth to hear from others.
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