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Artist Profile Series: Mary Coss

Megan Gallagher

Communications Intern

Mary Coss Traces installation at METHOD, 2015; Photo: James Arzente

Mary Coss is a Seattle-based artist specializing in sculpture and multimedia installation. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at alternative venues and community art spaces such as BONFIRE Gallery, Artprize Michigan, and Franklin Furnace NYC, and she is a co-founder of METHOD Gallery in Seattle.

In 2014 Mary received a GAP award to help pay for materials and assistance recording the soundtrack for Eventualities, an installation reflecting on memory and identity. The project was initially set to include cast bones, fossils, and shells hanging from a bronze DNA chandelier but eventually transformed into two different projects: Traces, an installation exploring cultural inheritance that appeared at METHOD Gallery in 2015, and Silent Salinity, an artist-scientist collaboration examining the effects of global warming on the freshwater supply that showed at Museum of Northwest Art in 2016.

Asked how the GAP award impacted her career as an artist, Mary says, “The funding was fantastic, and the timing of the GAP award aligned with several other accomplishments. It’s always hard to say what impacts what, but I do believe there’s a synergy that happens as you get acknowledged for your work.”

In addition to being a 2014 GAP recipient, Mary is a 2007 EDGE Professional Development Program graduate. Of the program, Mary says the impact it had on her career is “hard to quantify. From my experience, the primary impact was to put me into the middle of a cohort and created new networking connections. … I was not connected to the Seattle art community much before that.”

Having gone through the EDGE program and now built a community for herself in Seattle, Mary says her strongest advice for aspiring artists is to “simply pursue your passion and follow it where it leads you. If you do this your work will be meaningful and authentic and grant applications will flow easily. … Artists are reading the applications and they know when the project is in process and they can trust that you will finish it. That doesn’t mean it can’t develop and change but you need to be on an authentic trajectory in order to write a compelling grant application.”

Mary is currently developing several projects about water, including expanding Silent Salinity into a large-scale installation that will be on view at the Museum of Northwest Art later this year. She also recently completed an artist residency at Willapa Bay and is taking part in the Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator residency, where she is working with Daemond Arrindell, Dani Tirrell, and Anastacia Renee Tolbert to explore joy as a form of resistance through the lens of water.

To learn more about Mary’s work and current projects, visit her website.

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Megan Gallagher is a writer from Redmond, Washington. She currently serves as Artist Trust’s Communications Intern.