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Claire Cowie, Warrior

Claire Cowie, No Escape (2012), gouache, ink, watercolor, acrylic, graphite, collage, and thread on paper, suite of 9 [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 2-Jun 29]

Claire Cowie: Unreliable Source

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Portland OR – May 2-Jun 29, 2013

Claire Cowie, Warrior

Claire Cowie, Warrior (2013), archival inkjet print on matte paper [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 2-Jun 29]

Claire Cowie, Witch

Claire Cowie, Witch (2013), ink and watercolor on paper [Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Portland OR, May 2-Jun 29]

In her new exhibition of works on paper, sculpture, installations and photographs, Claire Cowie addresses issues of family, community and culture through surreal and dreamlike imagery that is rooted in a personal mythology. The Seattle artist is asking larger questions about how to make meaning and understanding of the world around us. Over the years, Cowie has built up a visual vocabulary of exotic creatures, animals and humans inhabiting shifting and floating landscape-ish settings that point to the inner workings of the mind and the artist’s current investigation of complex subjects such as trust, memory and navigating the waters of life.

Cowie’s intriguing paintings use soft washes, whispery lines and collage elements on paper, creating an ethereal vision of the world. Although her paintings are delicately rendered, her subjects can be dark and often feel as if they are part of an inescapable dream.

Cowie’s multi-faceted artistic approach relies on a loose narrative quality that functions somewhat like folklore. Many of the three-dimensional works are like characters or symbols from within her painted universe. Furry masks, colourful insects and disembodied fingers attached to the gallery walls bring elements from her airy paintings more concretely to life. Overall, there is a sense of mystery and wonder in Cowie’s storytelling.

Allyn Cantor


 Thu, Jun 6, 2013