Born and raised in Buffalo,Potenza studied at the Art Students League in New York City and earned both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She became an instructor of painting at the Millard Fillmore College, which was associated with SUNY/Buffalo.
Providing a statement about slightly earlier stained canvases, Potenza wrote that her work presented “a preliminary investigation of the creative process as it evolves through nature, man, and art with special attention on forms as they appear through scientific investigation of the inter-reality of the microcosm as viewed through photomicrographs of the various disciplines of metallurgy, geology and microbiology.” The scale differential is almost surreal. Although very little was ever written about Potenza’s work, Buffalo Evening News art critic Jean Reeves reported that Potenza had produced “a virtuoso series of large paintings filled with densely packed, small, feather-like forms in close value colors, paintings influenced by the ‘white writing’ of Mark Tobey and the works of Riopelle and Gorky.” Potenza’s Edenwald paintings also owe a debt to such works as Gray Yellowed (1952) by Sam Francis, which is owned by the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the calligraphic works of Cy Twombly. Edenwald in the title possibly refers to a playground in Bronx, New York.