Mary Coss is an interdisciplinary artist known for haunting installations that explore the human condition. Born in Detroit to a family of makers, Coss traveled and lived throughout the country and settled in Seattle. She received her MFA from Syracuse University, Dept. of Experimental Studios. This hybrid sculpture and media department introduced a life-long interest in layering social relevance with sculpture, projection and sound. Coss puts familiar themes into new contexts to explore the intersection of the natural and cultural worlds.
Coss has been recognized through awards and grants by the NEA, Ford and Puffin Foundations, 4Culture, Seattle Arts & Culture and Artist Trust. Her extensive exhibition record includes galleries, museums and sculpture parks. The installation Public Debt to the Suffragette received the “Art to Change the World: Inspiring Social Justice” Special Recognition Award from the ACLU at ArtPrize. Coss’ public work encompasses commissions and socially engaged practices. Extensive work in affordable housing combines site designed artwork, coordination as lead artist, and the authorship of art plans. Collaboration on the Greenbridge Master Plan team garnered four local and national design awards. Critically acclaimed Layers of the Hijab, a three-year social engagement project, received NEA funding.
Coss has garnered an international profile as travel and cross-cultural relationships are integral to her practice. These partnerships include a cultural exchange and exhibit at Candyland Arts in Stockholm, and artist engagements in Ireland, Turkey and Guatemala. Past residencies include Willapa Bay, Playa, James Washington Foundation, Cornish Incubator, and Cill Rialaig and Greywood Arts in Ireland.
Coss is a cultural worker evidenced by years of mentoring, teaching and curating projects that infuse the arts with social justice. She has taken on leadership roles in diverse settings, including her role as cofounder for a variety of institutions such as METHOD Gallery, a public art program in Southeast Seattle to teach youth employable skills, a rape crisis center that flourishes after 30 years and Borealis Light Festival in Seattle, WA.