ARTIST PROFILE + INTERVIEW: Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo

Artist Profile

Recently, I caught up with Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, an artist studying at California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco.  Lukaza and I met while interning at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, where we worked on a number of projects together.  Lukaza focuses on printmaking (lithographs and etchings), but also works in a variety of other media; she makes handmade paper, "natural dyed environments, projects about public crying, and grapefruit cake."  She is particularly inspired by the Southern California desert landscape.

Empty Houses, 2013. 

Artist Interview

I On the Arts: How did you get started making art? What media do you use?
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo: I think I have had an artists’ way of looking at the world. I have felt like I have always explored learning through making, whether building architectural models as a child to spending hours collecting found objects in the desert, or photographing beautiful pieces of trash in the street.
Currently, most of my work is in printmaking, mainly lithography and etching. I am also making works in sculpture and social practice/community engagement.
IOtA: What is the most challenging media you have worked with?

LBV: I feel that there are challenges whenever I deeply question a medium I am working in. And that challenge is what pulls me close to the work. The reason that I am attracted to a medium is because I am constantly questioning the ways it can hold my work.
Untitled, 2013.  

IOtA: What subject matter, artists, and teachers inspire you?

LBV: Having grown up in different communities that reflect my many cultural identities, I have grown up hearing a multitude of stories. As an artist with this influence, I feel that my work has always somehow been drawn to telling people’s stories.
 I have been lucky to have grown up in a community that treasured social activism, thought, art and the natural world. My art practice is not only influenced by artists, but equally by activists, writers, poets and philosophers. Amongst those are Bell Hooks, Angela Davis, Noah Purifoy, Ana Mendieta, Mark Bradford and Future Farmers. My most impactful teachers have been Dario Robleto, Sydney Cohen, Aaron Gach, Dominique Moodey, David McDonald and David Schoffman.
IOtA: How has being in California inspired your practice, if at all? Is there a “California” aesthetic to your work?

LBV: I was born in New York City and raised most of my life in Southern California and I have roots in Brazil. I am not sure what the “California aesthetic” is exactly. Because I don’t exist solely as a Californian, I come to my work with many aesthetic influences. I am also very much informed by the history that California holds, and the artists that come out of those moments. The California landscape also holds a powerful presence in my work -Death Valley, Big Sur, Joshua Tree.
home cape landscape performance, 2013-2014.
Digital Photography Stills. 
Natural dyed textile cape. 
Southern California Desert.

IOtA: What do you hope to do after you finish your BFA?

LBV: I would very much like to build my relationship with printmaking communities on a local, national and international level. I look forward to completing and expanding upon some of the community based, social practice work that I have begun over the last few years and I plan to explore ways to merge my studio practice with arts education.
IOtA: What has been the most successful and proud moment of your artistic career thus far?
The most successful artistic moments of my career are those moments when I am in the midst of hectic creative work and find that I am so fully engaged that I am unable to contain myself – filling up notebooks with writing, gathering objects, printing until late into the night. Those are my most success filled moments and the reason that why I create.
IOtA: I’ve noticed a theme of “home” and “houses” in your work. Can you talk about that?

LBV: I always thought I would be an architect. I would get home from elementary school and draw floor plans of my dream houses and then turn those floor plans into models. I didn’t actually start to incorporate literal buidlings into my work until recently, but being aware of how communities are built, whether supportive or detrimental to those who live in them, has always been in the back of my mind. I have tried to find ways to locate in my work, whether through mapping or designing walking tours, but the actual appearance of the house as structure started to appear after a visit to Cuba. I think that is because the Cuban community was so much grounded in structures, homes and plazas, an infrastructure that held a history of gathering and working together. Although I continue to work in this theme, I am now growing into finding ways to imagine these landscapes of home and community without the literal symbol in the shape of a house.
Hand Book, 2013. 
Found paper.

IOtA: Can you talk about the Public Crying Coalition project?
The Public Crying Coalition is an ongoing collaboration between myself and Zoe Ozma. Through the creation of an online mapping project, we explore the public experience of the private act of crying.

“The East Bay chapter of the Public Crying Coalition seeks to share and document sites and stories of public crying. An act both intimate and isolating, public crying exists at the axis of public and private, hyper visible and unnoticed, vulnerable and galvanized. We seek to map the East Bay with the psychogeography of tears and share their narratives through our Walking tour and dialogue.  This project is ongoing.” 

(For more information go to
IOtA: What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your artwork?

LBV: I hope that viewers will examine their own sense of location, the historic and community context within which they are living. And to motivate them to tell their own stories and to see and listen to those around them.