Arts + Culture
Katrina Gocan on Realizing
Her Artistic Passion
WRITTEN BY Fran Miller


Published On: June 27, 2024
artist Katrina Gocan posing in off-white shirt in front of abstract painting of woman
Katrina Gocan // Photo by Jasin Shields

Katrina Gocan never considered herself an overly artistic person. She doodled a bit as a child and took a drawing course while at University, but she was more interested in the written word and literature. In her mid-20s, she acknowledged the two sides of her personality: a sensitivity and need for aesthetic harmony and balance, contrasted with an analytical and organizational mind. She felt an interior design career would marry the two facets, but she realized her nomadic nature wouldn’t allow her to stay in place long enough to create a successful business. It wasn’t until recently that she accepted her need not just to witness beauty and harmony but to express it somehow personally, and during the 2020 COVID lockdown, she began experimenting with what that might look like.

Within the past few years, Gocan found her calling as an artist. “I was never entirely aware of an artistic dream, or maybe I never let myself dream of something so seemingly impractical,” said Gocan, a ten-year Napa resident. Originally from Warsaw, Poland, she came to the United States as a political refugee with her family in the early 80’s. In her 40s, she realized that society’s typical roadmap to success would never make her happy or fulfilled. “Some of us don’t really know our deepest longings until mid-life when we’re scar-clad and bruised from all the twists and turns in life. I am definitely a late bloomer.”

Gocan admits to not yet having a style. She’s allowing her curiosity to lead and letting inspiration take over, yet she recognizes a certain theme. “I’m very interested in Jungian psychology, spirituality, archetypes, and the function of myths and stories in our societies,” she said. “I’m also interested in the deeply introspective, personal moments in our lives, those quiet instances before an epiphany or a life-altering occurrence, when the realm of possibilities is boundless and limitless, and awe is a quiet certainty. That’s the place I like to be when I work.”

Current mediums include acrylic, watercolor, and collage. She collects textiles and fabrics from her frequent travels and plans to incorporate them into more abstract works. She likens her favorite subject matter to stray cats; “I don’t choose them; they choose me.” But mostly, her inspiration is found within different cultures and how people see the world— their beliefs, spirituality, and the different colors and patterns woven into their cultural stories. “I think it all gets put into a cauldron, ferments, and whatever emerges is always a fascinating surprise.”

When not at the easel, Gocan is either traveling with her partner, backpacking or curled up at home with her face buried in a book. “Living in Napa has been such an inspiring time,” said Gocan. “I love being surrounded by so much beauty and the wonderful sense of community. I dare not jinx it, but it looks like I may be putting down roots.”

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