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 Marymoor 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.
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
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
$17 Youth (18-) or Senior (65+)
Live in the VCA Atrium
This Lecture will not livestream. In-person only
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.
I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by one of the Seattle areas thoughtful arts and culture writers, Brangien Davis. She wrote a beautiful article, A ‘Ghost Log’ appears on Tacoma’s Waterfront for Crosscut. The cliff notes are in the PBS video version.
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.
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
Are you listening? A note about Timbre…
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.
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.
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.
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.
Filmed at J. Rinehart Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition, Conversations.
On view November 7 – December 19, 2020 and at www.jrinehartgallery.com
Mary Coss creates new Sculpture for Bainbridge Island High School
New design work for Bainbridge Island! I looked at the wave in the form of a cross section and saw how similar it is to an opening fern frond. The images follow the golden ratio which describes predictable patterns found in nature. My research led me to propose three monumental scaled cross sections. The first image is a fern unfurling, next waves build up and crash. Water jet cut metal forms the three shapes. Cut words create detail and texture, and deepen meaning. They tell a story of growth and resilience. The three cross-sections sit on a cement wedge, a place to gather. The modern wedge form is cast in concrete and grounds the art in an aesthetic that ties in to the architecture. Stay tuned for more updates!
Opening November 7th
J. Rinehart Gallery presents an exhibition of artwork in conversation. Featuring new works by Jaq Chartier, Katy Stone, Maggie Jiang, and guest artists Hernan Paganini and Mary Coss. On View in the gallery from November 7 – December 19, 2020.
Stay tuned! I’ll be taking part in the upcoming live-streamed Conversations.
“With a unique mix of materials, imagery and techniques, this exhibition combines the works of seemingly different artists in the same visual space, creating a new conversation between the works and the viewer as they interact.
Mary Coss’ bronze gloves paired with Meggan Joy’s digitally collaged floral hand gestures speaks to feminine ideals and modern strength within the rich symbolic nature of our hands. Joy’s fleeting floral collages flow into Katy Stone’s works on aluminium as her silhouettes of flora dance off the wall.”
My Artist Support Residency will support professional master sound recordings on my newest project. Ghost Timbre is a sound experience that will accompany my Public Art sculpture Ghost Log at Dickman Mill Park on Commencement Bay in Tacoma. The residency includes a public exhibit and a podcast.
Ghost Timbre mixes historical sounds heard at Dickman Mill and its natural surroundings with interviews that speak to its history. These include stories from the Dickman family (previously recorded by Storycorp); interviews of Puyallup elders, documentation of a cedar gathering, tribal blessings and song; sound from a working vintage mill; worker interviews; logs splashing in water; sounds of the park’s wetland and native birds singing. The soundtrack is accessed through a web link at the waterfront park and permanently hosted on the Metro Parks Tacoma website.
Alma Mater Tacoma has offered audio recording consultation, a public event, and a public exhibit in Milk Gallery.
A partnership with Eastside Community Center (Metro Parks) lends in kind support. Lonnie Perrin, sound engineer at The Center’s Billy Ray Shirley III Recording Studio, will help me record. Thank you partners for supporting the project!
Ghost Timbre is the audio component that supports the public artwork Ghost Log, a monumental sized public sculpture by artist Mary Coss at Dickman Mill Park. Ghost Log will be sited on a restored antique artifact, the head saw from the original Dickman Lumber Mill on Tacoma’s Ruston Way waterfront. The sound component is an imperative piece of storytelling. It fleshes out the relationship of the people in the community to the local lumber industry.
The sculpture itself is a 40’ long corten steel form with a laser cut skin resembling cedar bark. An 8’ wheel gear at the park end of the log makes witness to the enormous scale and contributes to a deeper understanding of the machinery and the history. The mechanical structural log transforms to the organic as it twists and turns, first to form a basket weave midway and then culminates in cedar boughs at the water’s edge. The basket form honors the tribal lands of the area. The cedar basket motif appears again in the signage. A small bronze sculpture in the shape of a cedar basket holds the interpretive engraved signage for the artwork.
The Ghost Log creates a network of reflection on the water at night. Lit within, the shadows reflect onto the water surface. The log is embedded with words to support the historical connection to the mill, the tribe, cedar, and the logging industry. The sound aids this ethereal visual quality and flushes out the stories and sounds of the park and its history.
The sound component mixes historical sounds that would have been heard at the mill and its natural surroundings with interviews that speak to its history. This includes: stories from the Dickman family (previously recorded by Storycorp); interviews of Puyallup elders, documentation of a cedar gathering, tribal blessings and song; sound from a working vintage mill; worker interviews; logs splashing in water; sounds of the park’s wetland and native birds singing. The soundtrack is accessed at the waterfront park and permanently hosted on the Metro Parks Tacoma website. On site, a QR code and link to the virtual sound is posted on interpretive signage. The link provides access to the audio on your phone at the pier, or later at home.
Thrilled to be included with such visionaries as Holly Ballard Martz, Howard Barlow, Katie Miller, Clair Cowey, Justin Beckman and Tessa Hulls! fingers crossed