Wall Shook Up: LC Studio Tutto


LC Studio Tutto energizes outdoor spaces with their effervescent artwork, including their latest, the courtyard at The Piccolo in Paso Robles

A vibrant 100 foot mural, dancing with examples of the area’s local flora and fauna, greets guests upon their arrival at The Piccolo. Created by Sofia Lacin and Hennessey Christophel of LC Studio Tutto, its the latest example of the California duo’s work which has energized spaces — from freeway underpasses to walls to water towers — across the state, creating beauty and thoughtful moments from formerly barren sites. We sat down to talk to the artists about their collaboration, their work at The Piccolo, the meaning behind the design and some of their other work. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarification.

So tell us a little bit about LC Studio Tutto and how you got started.

We met in high school art class and instantly connected. Though we went our separate ways in college, we both majored in art. Sofia focused on abstract painting and studied for a year Italy; Hennessy studied illustration and bookmaking. We joined forces after graduation and, in the last decade, we’ve probably done about 80 pieces. Everything that we make is very site-specific and informed by nature. No matter which of our pieces we’re discussing, the overarching goal is to invite a momentary pause, inspire a visceral connection with the physical space and encourage people to appreciate the beauty of nature.

-Can you share more about some of the projects you’ve done, starting with “Native Bouquet”, the mural in the courtyard of The Piccolo in Paso Robles

“Native Bouquet” is designed to capture the feeling of walking through the natural environment of Paso Robles. Over 40 species, including milkweed, the plants that monarch butterflies depend on for their lifecycle, and oak leaves, are delicately woven together in a tapestry that spans this nearly 100 foot wall foot wall.

“Sun Touches Shadow”, which we did for DreamWorks Animation, was designed to animate their creative offices. We used brooms to create different textures. We incorporated flowers, like bird of paradise, that are common to the neighborhood.. There are sculptures made up of dense aluminum abstracted bird shapes, inspired by the way that bird mumurations [the patterns made by a flying flock] create mesmerizing magical patterns in the sky.

With the larger site for “Same Sun”, comprised of many different elements, we were able to tell a really monumental story. It’s 14,000 square foot abstract mural painted on water tower. We built up layers of color and texture that communicate with the surrounding fields. then added lettering, then we fabricated and installed three shadow casting sculptures on the top of the tank that have letters nestled in them. So that every year on the summer solstice, the letters in the shadows align with the painted letters on the tank and they complete the Latin phrase “Sol Onibus Lucet,” which means the sun shines upon us all. It represents the mystery and beauty of nature and invites a sense of curiosity. Then there’s this moment of discovery the alignment happens. This is a very zoomed out big picture perspective as opposed to the intimacy of the courtyard at The Piccolo.

The 7,000 foot ’Bright Underbelly” arches over largest farmer’s market in California, huddled under two stretches of the eastbound/westbound I5 freeway. We wanted to connect the beautiful produce to the story of agriculture and the story of the four seasons. Before the freeway was built, there was a sycamore grove here so that was our jumping off point, from the lush leaves of summer in the lower left to the barren branches of winter in the upper right. The white throated swift is one of the fastest birds and actually makes its nest in the freeway. And then there is the lunar cycle for the entire year that frames the piece. 

Because we were painting on the freeway,  we had to work with Caltrans. Their job is to keep our freeways safe so they weren’t too excited about the idea of painting on the underbelly of a busy freeway but we ended up working with them in a very collaborative way that resulted in a new approach to allowing artwork on all freeways so we essentially rewrote the rules with Caltrans over about a year long process. So that was a big accomplishment for us. 

“Fire and Rain” is a piece that’s currently being fabricated. It highlights the Techate Cypress, a plant that is endemic to a very small region of California including Irvine which is where the piece is located. We want highlight this species because it tells an interesting story about how many plants native to Southern California evolved to work in tandem with the natural fire and rain cycles. In fact, the Techate Cypress needs fire and rain to unlock its seeds for germination. This pieces is a cultural installation that also serves a functional purpose as a shade screen; there will be benches underneath. Finding ways to integrate our work more fully into the landscape is a direction that we’re really excited about moving in

Thank you! See more of LC Studio Tutto, including a video of the alignment that forms the basis of “Same Sun” on the LC Studio Tutto website.

More news: