Katy Cowan

For this exhibition LONGS/HAPPENS, I have created new, long, sun-printed paintings and re-assembled some of my previous brick sculptures into a long, intrusive installation. The paintings were all created this spring in my backyard in Milwaukee. And the Brickline sculpture captures years of my working with the brick form—the brick is an object I have worked with for awhile both in making multiple castings as singular sculptures, and as an object that I use during studio processes to hold and weigh down materials. The mediums I have chosen for this exhibition are cement, wood, and sun-sensitive photographic paint. I think that these materials help to realize the fleeting happenings that occur during the making of artworks, as well as highlight my work habits in both the studio and woodshop, and the decision-making that goes into each step of the process. For instance, cement brings together and stubbornly secures subject matter; exaggerated wood plinths and raw wood frames make visible the work of the studio and woodshop; and sun-sensitive photographic paint catalogues each brush, spray, or spill mark.

With this show in mind, I created work that reveals a few of the ideas I am currently working with: legibility in image-making (both whether and why something can be read as abstract or familiar), the differences between tools as ideas and ideas as tools (how the practical usage of a tool breaches both conceptual and physical processes), as well as issues relating to a viewer’s awareness of their surroundings, and how one can bring the personal into their artwork in a meaningful way. I am interested in framing my work-process as a series of questions rather than answers – this approach allows my processes to get revealed physically. That is, my abstract thoughts—which are usually understood as internal to an individual—are essentially revealed in the external, physical work. So in much of my artwork it is the concepts that drive the questions that I interrogate; but concepts, as I understand them, are never neatly separable from the actions that provide the context for conceiving them in the first place.

- Katy Cowan