Katy Cowan b. 1982 in Lake Geneva, WI

Katy Cowan makes hand-cast, hand-painted aluminum works of rope constructions. These rope constructions are put together in the studio, and organized with an eye to abstraction, line, shape, color and energy. The rope constructions are burned out in the sand-casting process, leaving an aluminum cast wall frieze on which Cowan paints with oil paint, taking the process a step further. Cowan's body, her studio tools, and the events in her immediate environment serve as generative subject-matter for her artworks. These artworks investigate human experience and the traces left by such experience. They suggest that ideas and objects are both physical and metaphorical, and that an impression can take forms both indexically literal and expressively iconic.

Katy Cowan moves easily between media. Her transitions rely on a larger, systematic way of thinking that emphasizes alteration, repetition, and a conceptual emphasis on material choice. Cowan's latest works are formed in part by the legacy of human experience and the traces left by such experience. They suggest the presence of objects and ideas as both physical and metaphorical impressions. Commenting on her recent work involving hand-painted casts of rope assemblages, Cowan writes:

“My...challenge was to approach ropes in a new way; not as a tool to dangle, suspend, or strangle subject matter (as I've done in the past), but to approach ropes as if I were creating minimal line drawings. I wanted to simplify the rope and allow these aluminum rope lengths to encapsulate areas of raw aluminum for me to paint. Also, the decision to echo fabric and aluminum ropes has a material conversation that I have long been interested in of weight and levity, humor and sadness, beauty and utility. This flipping permits those conversations to hopefully arise."

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. Her work was recently included in "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). She 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. 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