Katte Geneta’s island art inspired by the Philippines

The artist in her NYC studio

The artist in her NYC studio

From the islands of the Philippines to the island of Manhattan and now to Governors Island in New York, Katte Geneta brings attention to the beauty of her parents’ native land with her meditative drawings.

The Queens-born Katte uses Philippine volcanic ash and lahar with simple white chalks to create drawings of the cosmos, skies, and oceans. Inspired by the Philippines’ mountain views and seascapes, she transports natural materials into her artwork.

She is one of the featured artists in the Governors Island Art Fair, New York’s largest independent exhibition now on its seventh year. The fall art fair has 100 rooms of painting, sculpture, installation, video and sound art. It was organized by 4heads, a nonprofit organization created by artists. Their goals are to foster community by offering space for artists to provide arts education for the underserved, and to promote dialogue between artists and people from all walks of life. The art fair is free and open to the public Saturdays and Sundays of September

Born in 1983, Katte grew up making things by hand. She studied philosophy and fine art in college and received a full scholarship from Fordham University Lincoln Center. Her work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and is in international private collections.

“Both my parents are Filipino. My dad, now deceased, is from Cebu, and my mom is from Quezon City,” Katte told The FilAm in an email interview.

Both parents had artistic skills too. Her father was good at drawing as well as singing and playing guitar. Her mom always had a keen and sensitive eye for detail, a love for reading, along with a good singing voice. They moved to New York in 1980 to Long Island City in Queens, where their cousins lived. Her older sister, Kay, who is a nurse, also paints during her free time, added Katte. One cousin is gifted at photography and sculpture, and another was a poet.

She travelled to the Philippines quite often as a young girl and considers it part of her formative experience.

“I try to go every few years and the last time I was there was last year,” she said.

She said she uses volcanic ash in her paintings for reasons of spirituality and identity.

“I wanted to use a material that was specifically from the Philippines to bring attention to that part of the world,” she said. She wanted to draw attention to the country’s unrivaled beauty and its precarious relationship with nature because of the frequent natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, typhoons, earthquakes and landslides.

The delicateness of ash, Katte added, is also a reminder of Man’s limited time on Earth, as in the Bible’s “For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

For GIAF, Katte said she worked on expanding on her Cosmos series of paintings. In November, she will be going to the American Academy in Rome as part of the Visiting Artists and Scholars Program.

Governors Island is accessible by an 8-minute ferry ride from the Battery Maritime Building (10 South Street) in Lower Manhattan or a 3-minute ferry ride from Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 6 (at the end of Atlantic Avenue, at Columbia Street) in Brooklyn.

Cosmos No. 6

Cosmos No. 6

Cosmos No. 7

Cosmos No. 7

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