Featured Story

Elizabeth Gatto, ’17, grew up in Lewiston, N.Y., surrounded by spectacular views of the Niagara River and Gorge and inspired by the art installations displayed at Artpark. Today, she shares her passion for the beauty of the natural world, as well as her own artwork, in her role as educator and program coordinator at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and resident artist for its Archangel Gallery.

As an artist who wanted to pursue a degree in art history with museum studies, Gatto came to Niagara because of the opportunities it offered to build close relationships with fellow students and professors, the unique classes that she could take, and the potential for a life-changing study-abroad experience in Europe, where she spent five months in Rome, Sevilla, and Paris, taking immersive art history courses and visiting renowned museums and historical sites.

She also found a mentor in Marian Granfield, the former chair of the art history with museum studies program, who was “incredibly engaging and supportive,” and gave Gatto “the tools to succeed in a museum setting by providing thoughtful critiques and sharing her first-hand experiences from many years of working as a museum educator.”

After graduation, Gatto worked at Artpark and pursued internships at a number of local galleries, including the Albright Knox Art Gallery (now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum), Anna Kaplan Contemporary, and Resource Art.

In November of 2022, Gatto joined the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens as an event assistant and took on her current position five months later. Her days are spent teaching both educational and art-based workshops for adults and children, developing classes and ideas for new programming, and coordinating and facilitating the group visits, hands-on activities, and tours that take place at the gardens.

The museum-based courses she took during her undergraduate studies prepared her to develop creative programming, she said, and her hands-on experience with assisting in the curation of a museum-wide exhibition for the Castellani’s 25th anniversary taught her about the dynamics of working in a professional museum setting and the importance of meticulous archival research.

In addition to her educational work, Gatto continues to cultivate her artistic pursuits, as well. She has been featured in several group shows at galleries including the Buffalo Art Movement, the Crucible Art Collective, Buffalo Big Print, and the Castellani Art Museum. Her work was also recently featured in an auction at the Graycliff Estate for its celebration of the summer solstice. Her first solo exhibit, "Seeking Apricity," is currently on display at the Botanical Gardens’ Archangel Gallery through April 23, 2024.

“I could not imagine a better, more complimentary space for my paintings and drawings than the Botanical Gardens,” she said, noting that its “luminous glass walls filled with organic forms, vibrancy, and bold patterns always inspire productivity.”

Gatto hopes to continue her work as both an artist and an art educator, and is appreciative of the strong foundation she received at Niagara University.

“My experience at NU has shaped me into the person I am today,” she said. “I do not feel I would have accomplished as much as I have or dreamed as big as I did without the guidance, support, and resources made available to me through my time at Niagara.”