Katy Cowan b. 1982 in Lake Geneva, WI

Katy Cowan’s work investigates the terms of the art object, her identity as a maker and the site of creation itself. Cowan’s body, her studio tools, and the events in her immediate environment serve as generative subject-matter for her artworks. Cowan moves easily between media. “I am completely interested in breaking down barriers of categorization,” she states. Her transitions rely on a larger, systematic way of thinking that emphasizes alteration, repetition, and a conceptual emphasis on material choice. At the same time, Cowan’s work embraces an open attitude towards studio practice: “I love incorporating accidents into my work and learning to react to them, to build off of them.” Recent works reflect Northern California, where Cowan lives and works; they “show the shifting winds, the force of the Pacific Ocean on Northern California coastlines, the foggy calm of the evening sun burning through the atmosphere.” Poetry is another influence in Cowan’s work. As a visual artist, working in response to poetry, “takes time,” Cowan writes, “you have to step back, see your world in a new way, and let that change affect you.”


Katy Cowan (b. 1982, Lake Geneva, WI) received her BFA from University of Puget Sound (Puget Sound, WA) in 2004 and her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, CA) in 2014. Upcoming solo exhibitions include Katy Cowan at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA) January 8 – February 12, 2022. Current group exhibitions include TOA Presents  (Minneapolis, MN); and Mirages at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum (St. Augustine, FL). Her work was also the subject of a solo exhibition in spring 2021 at Document (Chicago, IL). Recent solo and group shows include “Suns Pass Flat” and ”The Day in the Night,” at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA); “Centennial: 100 Years of Otis College Alumni" at Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, CA); "Left, Right, Left, Left" at The Green Gallery (Milwaukee, WI)’ and "The Blue Sun Moans" at Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY). Cowan has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA); Fourteen30 Contemporary (Portland, OR); University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA); Lynden Sculpture Garden (Milwaukee, WI); Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (Madison, WI); Synchrotron Radiation Center: Home of Aladdin (Stoughton, WI); Poor Farm (Manawa, WI); The Green Gallery (Milwaukee, WI); and Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY). Cowan's work is in public and private collections such as the Minneapolis Museum of Art (Minneapolis, MN); Lynden Sculpture Garden (Milwaukee, WI); Art in Embassies (Maputo, Mozambique); and Northwestern Mutual Insurance (Milwaukee, WI). Her work has been reviewed in “Artforum,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Architectural Digest,” “Wallpaper*,” “Contemporary Art Review LA,” “Artnet” and other publications. Cowan lives and works in Berkeley, CA.


In the Studio: Katy Cowan