Catherine Gomez latest artist to join The Studios@5663

Photo SUBMITTED Catherine Gomez’s recent Immigration Essentials exhibition.

PINELLAS PARK – The Studios@5663, located at 5663 Park Blvd. in the middle of the Pinellas Arts Village, welcomes several new artists into its fold, including Catherine Gomez.

Gomez, who spent much of her life in the Orlando area, has lived in St. Petersburg since 2014.

She “dabbled” in art as a child, with an interest in photography, she said. But by the time she found herself at Valencia Community College, she decided to major in education.

As she pursued her studies, she kept finding herself on the receiving end of the same piece of advice from veteran teachers.

“They told me, ‘Don’t major in education. Major in something you love,’” Gomez said.

Though she thinks education “is really important,” she began to reconsider her career plans. So she worked her way through humanities classes. While taking a photography course, she “found [she] had a talent for it” and changed her major to studio art.

She’s currently a student at the University of South Florida and plans to graduate next fall.

Though Gomez has only been in the Tampa Bay area for a short time, she threw herself into St. Petersburg’s thriving arts scene.

She took a role as docent at the Chihuly Collection and eventually the Salvador Dali Museum.

She also volunteered to work with artists at the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival and this year was hired as artist liaison manager. The Dali later offered her regular, part-time work and she was hired as an associate at St. Petersburg’s Museum of Fine Arts.

“For a while, I was working in a museum six days a week. It’s been a snowball effect,” she said. “I really fell in love with St. Petersburg. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming.”

As for her own artwork, she tends to be drawn to largescale conceptual pieces. A recent exhibition, Migration Essentials, was on display at the Carolyn Wilson Gallery at USF in Tampa.

The socially engaging installation relied on audience participation.

“My goal is to break down the barrier of passive viewers, break down the chasm of viewers and artists,” Gomez said. “I want viewers to have as much ownership over the piece as possible.”

She said up a variety of objects, allowing viewers to choose items that represented their own history and family and utilize them in the exhibit. They could either create their own pieces or build on those started by others. She plans to document the pieces created and display them on a website.

She’s currently working on a new exhibit, Net Pop-up, which explores how space embodies the Internet and how people reflect on technology.

For more information about her work, follow her on Instagram @cathiegomez.