Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Mary Coss is a Seattle interdisciplinary visual artist whose haunting projects provide commentary on the human condition. Born in Detroit, Coss received an MFA from Syracuse University, Dept. of Experimental Studios then traveled the country settling in the Northwest where she actively exhibits, curates, and mentors young artists. Coss re-contextualizes common artifacts using abstraction to explore issues of identity, memory, and social justice. She works outside categorical distinction moving fluidly between conceptual and social art practices, installation and traditional sculpture, poetry, and digital media. Coss exhibits extensively through the US, showing at several northwest Museums and internationally. Her Public Art is found in public housing, parks, and schools throughout the Northwest. Travel is integral to her work, with residencies and cultural exchanges through Eastern and Western Europe and South and Central America. The critically acclaimed "Layers of the Hijab," a three-year social engagement project, received financial support from the NEA and the city of Seattle. Recognized through grants from Artist Trust, 4Culture, and Ford and Puffin Foundations, her work "Public Debt to the Suffragette" received the “Art to Change the World: Inspiring Social Justice” Special Recognition Award from the ACLU at ArtPrize. Coss’ community and cultural work includes co-founding a rape crisis center that flourishes after 30 years, a public art program teaching youth employable skills in southeast Seattle, METHOD, an artist-run installation gallery, and Seattle’s light festival, Borealis.

Mary received 2014 GAP funding for materials and professional assistance with an audio recording for an installation at METHOD Gallery. Her project, Eventualities, incorporates objects that reflect on the past and look to the future. Cast bones, fossils, shells, fortune cookies, and seed pods act as crystals and pendants strung throughout an unfurling bronze DNA framework chandelier. While the visuals take us back and forward through time, the audio reflects the constant through time. Sounds from nature will be recorded, that potentially, are the same as those from centuries ago (wind, water ripples, waves, and wildlife). Contemporary life sounds are also recorded. The audio loop migrates from sounds of nature to the urban sounds of today and then back again, wedding them in a way that creates both an otherworldly, yet at times nostalgic experience.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

Thank you Artist Trust for being there. I feel seen, honored, and reaffirmed for this serious recognition of the work that I am committed to! As an artist working outside of the commercial gallery world, it is incredibly validating to have my practice acknowledged in this way. It is the fuel to keep going.

Mary Coss