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Portrait by James Arzente
Mary Coss creates sculptures and installations that travel from the instantly recognizable — an infant, a woman’s torso, a nest in a branch — to the vaguely familiar and almost purely gestural. The details of family lineage might be abstracted and re-formed into a large-scale biomorphic installation. Mother nature may be portrayed through pods of woven wire. Even with those works that are more overtly representational, Coss chooses forms that invoke issues and stories beyond the visual. With all of her works, there are layers of social import, personal or local history, and existential suggestiveness.
Coss’s diversity of form is echoed in, and often inspired by, a diversity in materials. Plaster, glass, paper, found objects, wood, text, and sound co-exist or stand alone, offering evocative associations in form and content. The themes of Coss’s art often stem from nature and the roots of cultural and familial histories. She is a story gatherer and teller, but, in the end, through her metamorphic materials and processes, the viewer intuits and constructs meaning. Just as her sculptural forms are often permeated by openings — spaces in between her interwoven and extended gestures — Coss offers expansive and interconnected impressions rather than closed narratives.
excerpted from METHOD essay by Gayle Clemans, April, 2013