Bellevue College Resident Artist fall 2022

Residency: October 4 – 15  &  November 1 – 17

Sound the Siren Exhibition: November 17 – December 12

I am excited to start my new venture as Bellevue College Resident Artist! I am maintaining a dual purpose residency over the next 6 weeks. While I create artwork, I will host students in conversation about the concepts, inspiration and fabrication of the art and discuss the preparation for exhibition. These conversations will continue through to the exhibit. I look forward to working with students in the sociology, political science and art departments! I will also facilitate voter registration by providing interested students with a QR code, so that they can register online to vote.


I explore current topics and memory with a critical eye. I challenge our expectations and social norms in order to analyze their effects on our present state and to consider our future impact. Sound the Siren is artwork examining ideas of social justice. There are tendrils to civil rights, free speech, feminist ideology and a host of other topics. The work has a societal basis and generates conversation about history, empowerment, anger, empathy and integrity.

Migrazione/Migration

Artist Mary Coss discusses her installation with translation by artist Jodi Sandford at Press Conference

Migrazione/Migration opened September 3, 2022 at Museo civico di Palazzo della Penna in Perugia, Italy. This exhibit of sister cities Seattle and Perugia was a joint effort by a group of artists representing both cities. The juried exhibit covered artist costs including travel, shipping, and materials. Mary Coss exhibited The Shape of Passage which included a poem written in both languages integrated into an ethereal installation made from Tulle. It was covered by local press and television.

Jack Straw Artist of the Week

Learn about Ghost Log and listen to my Ghost Timbre sound collage on this podcast feature with Jack Straw! My exhibit at Jack Straw Cultural Center opens tomorrow, July 8th with a reception at 7pm. I hope you can join us!

Ghost Timbre Exhibition July 8- August 19, 2022

Jack Straw Cultural Center 4261 Roosevelt Way NE

Opening reception July 8, 7-8:30 pm Visit by appointment Mon-Fri 10-5:30. Please schedule all attendance and get details at 206-634-0919 or jsp@jackstraw.org

Emerge

I’m delighted to announce that I have a new Public Art Project to be installed at Piper in Redmond. Piper is located in a developing urban setting adjacent to Marymoor Park. My proposal addresses the duality of the built character of this neighborhood within the larger Northwest ecosystem and nearby Park. Emerge is an architectural column that transforms into a tree. The base of the column is cast concrete, which reads as an architectural plinth. The base serves as a footing and a gathering place for people to sit. 

Exhibition in Perugia, Italy!

I’m so grateful to be selected to go to Perugia this fall to exhibit at Palazzo della Penna Museum! Artists, chosen by the panel, who will exhibit in Perugia this September: SEATTLE ARTISTS/ARTISTI DI SEATTLE Humaira Abid, Iole Alessandrini, Mary Coss, Paul Goldstein, Malayka Gormally PERUGIA ARTISTS/ARTISTI DI PERUGIA Paolo Lattaioli, Sandford & Gosti, Tonina Cecchetti, Vilma Lok, Kim Hee Jin

Talk on the Rock with Mary Coss and Roxy Coss

A Cross Generational Talk on the Creative Process Listen here

Vashon Center for the Arts

March 10 @ 7:00 pm

Visual Artist Mary Coss will exhibit at the Gallery at Vashon Center for the Arts during March of 2022 in celebration of International Women’s Day. Her feminist perspective and compelling creative work is carried on through her female lineage.

Daughter Roxy Coss is an internationally renowned jazz saxophonist-composer, releasing her sixth album on March 25th, entitled Disparate Parts (Outside in Music). Roxy is also the Founder and President of Women in Jazz Organization (WIJO), which works to level the gender disparity in jazz.

In this debut public exchange, they will discuss their individual and collaborative explorations through the creative process, and examine similarities and differences of how they each transform conceptual ideas of inspiration into finished art.

Both mother and daughter have distinguished voices in their respective fields, creating work with a social conscience while working as activists, mentors and educators. Their parallel careers occasionally cross paths and unfold into artistic collaboration through the lens of a shared aesthetic and value system. They will discuss diverse aesthetic challenges such as maintaining an authentic vision while navigating themes of social justice, reaching and developing an audience through visceral and allegorical means, balancing concept and technique, and their love and fear of pushing boundaries.

Thursday, March 10 at 7pm
$20 General
$17 Youth (18-) or Senior (65+)
$15 Member
Live in the VCA Atrium
This Lecture will not livestream. In-person only

Call to Arms

Amazon Warrior Shield

March 4-27, 2022

Artist reception March 4th 5-8pm at Vashon Center for the Arts

Call to Arms  throws down the gauntlet to the patriarchy and questions gendered power dynamics through a twist of materials and imagery.

Mary Coss’ allegorical work explores contemporary social issues and existential questions. By altering the context of ideas, objects and tropes the viewer is provoked to consider their assumptions. She questions what we think we know, and invokes double standards and unspoken truths.  

Coss frames her critique with modern and historical references. She usurps our imperfect past as she unearths feminine strength through the subject matter and the materials used. Cast bronze, traditionally used for monuments and body armor, is contemporized through her visceral adaptations. Her use of the female body shows both its power and vulnerability. The material itself attests to the fortitude and strength of the women it portrays. Historical weaponry is transformed into armor for our time, or for some dystopian future. Ancient shields take on a modern battle. 

Coss presents conflicting ideas and recontextualizes common objects to reveal stereotypical thinking.The grand scale of a ten foot tall pelvic bone upholstered in wedding gowns stuns the audience while luring them in with the intricate delicacy of the gowns. The taboo of purity is juxtaposed with the primal scream of birth. Through these contrasts of materials and ideas Coss compels us to consider the deeper meanings layered in the work.

This is Timbre lines… A podcast exploring art, history, community and cedar.

This week I am in Mothership sound studios! Thank you Alma Mater Tacoma. I’m thrilled to explore a new medium…sound, as a new way to approach storytelling. The podcast is called Timbre…lines.

We’re exploring timbre here. That is timbre as in sound, or the character or quality of music or voice. It’s how you recognize the different sounds or voices that you hear. 

We are recognizing different voices of the local people and the communities that rely on the stately cedar tree for sustenance, sanctuary and livelihood as we navigate these waters.

I’m in the studio (left) with Amber Sterud Hayward, Puyallup Tribal Language Program Director. I also spoke with historians and preservationists Brandon Reynon (Puyallup Tribal Historic Preservation Officer) and Michael Sullivan (Artifacts Consulting). Claire Keller-Scholz (Tacoma Parks) speaks about the fire in the episode Up in Flames and Rebecca Solverson (Public Art Specialist for City of Tacoma) turns the table and starts to interview the artist, 😉that’s me, Mary Coss. This week I recorded the first half of six episodes. More to come! The series will be published later this year.

Silent Salinity published in Sporklet Press

The current issue of Sporklet Press features Silent Salinity: Net Loss as part of this months poetry review.

Poet and editor Rae Gouirand curated the issue and embraced the project. Gouirand and Coss spent time as Artists in Residents together at Willapa Bay AiR when the artwork was first in development. The photo left shows a detail of the salt encrusted wire text by Coss. The text is written as a journal entry by scientist Roger Fuller and contemplates the state of the estuaries. The issue includes the writing along with several reproductions of the large 10′ artwork, which references a fishing net.

Coss and Fuller took part in discussions regarding global warming and the rising salinity levels in the estuaries. Their three year exchange resulted in a large body of artwork featured in a series of four changing exhibits. You can read more about Silent Salinity here. Fuller currently heads up Stewardship at Padilla Bay Reserve.

Detail of Silent Salinity: Net Loss

Funding is secured for Ghost Timbre!

Are you listening? A note about Timbre…

  • Cedar Gathering

Take time to closely listen to the sounds around us.  I’ve been thinking about how sound is temporal, but beyond that some sounds are timeless in a way, for instance the sound of waves lapping on a shore or the sounds of the wind in the forest. It gives me chills to consider that my ancestors could listen to some of the same sounds I hear today.  Others of course change through time.  My newest project is called Ghost Timbre. This sound piece will include historical sounds that would have been heard at Dickman Mill and the surrounding natural environment, mixed with interviews that offer historical perspective from Puyallup Tribal members and mill owners and workers. My research took me further into the uses of cedar and the lands of the local indigenous people. I recently went on a cedar gathering with the Puyallup Tribe. This sustainable practice creates unique sounds which will be mixed with familiar sounds of the forest in this work. The cedar stripping from the tree is fresh and exhilarating. The practice honors the cedar with a prayer, offering and thanks. The trees chosen withstand the scar and live on. 

Ghost Timbre will accompany my Ghost Log at Dickman Mill Park. This is Puyallup land. Traditional homelands of the Puyallup tribe. The integration of Lushootseed and twined baskets in the Ghost Log and related sounds in Ghost Timbre are a small step in allyship, in helping to lift their voices and celebrate the history and experience of the Indigenous people. Small steps in ongoing work. 

Thanks to the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Port of Tacoma, and City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Office and Office of Arts for supporting this project.  

Finalist for Uptown

 Rise, is based on an architectural column that contains a tree within it

I have received a contract to propose new artwork, a permanent exterior sculpture for the Uptown neighborhood at 100 Roy Street in Seattle.

Rise is an abstracted column transformed into a tree. Columns standing alone read as monuments. In context, they transmit the weight of the structure above to the structural elements below. This is a form of compression that is inherantly contradicted in my design. The column has been released from its physical function and shattered by nature itself, in the form of a tree. The tree seems to have grown within the column and bursts through at its seams. The corten steel artwork combines the built environment with nature.

This “tree” is abstract and represented as lacy cut sheet metal in the form of Cedar Bark. The shoots are tipped with bronze cast buds. The base of the column is cast concrete and reads as an architectural plinth. It serves as a footing and a gathering place for people to sit. It will be lit inside to feature the lacy shadows cast at night, in addition to the natural sunlit shadows of the day.

Surge Commission is approved

Surge Sculpture Installation Spring 2021

Public art making is a long process, with many hurdles and challenges. It’s satisfying to finally get through all those hoops and to have a sculpture built that remains true to your vision. I am happy to share that my sculpture Surge, at Bainbridge Island High School, has made it through those hoops. Fabrication is starting. Thanks to Mike Sweney of the Washington State Arts Commission for shepherding me through the process.

Spokane Library Finalist

Watermark Finalist Proposal:

My sculpture often includes lighting, text, and a combination of bold forms with intricate detail. My contract proposal for the Spokane Library atrium follows these signature principles. The atrium’s varied light conditions continually change under its massive skylights, and are a prime consideration in the design. The library location near Spokane Falls and the architecture of the building are considered parameters.

The local river geology is fascinating. The basalt itself is an intriguing story, created by lava and carved by floods. The architects designed abstract faceted boulders to form structures within the building that reference the falls. The boulders are half of the geologic story. My proposal introduces the other half, the story of the water, in the artwork titled Watermark. These faceted raindrops integrate my bronze text technique. The cursive script creates lace like forms to frame lexan panels of color. The integration of the cursive text provides for an opportunity to add layers of meaning. My proposal uses bits of literature that you find in the library itself, proverbs about raindrops from around the world.