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Cynthia Coté: Still

October 4 - December 11, 2021


About the Exhibition

STILL is an installation of colored pencil drawings, pen & ink drawings and sketchbooks, clay animal figures, and a collection of objects. The colored pencil drawings are inspired by vintage black and white snapshots of people. I like their uncomfortable stance, their physical relationship to one another, their outfits. Standing still in the landscape (or floating), they call back and remind us of our own people from another time. The other drawings are records. I record my trips around the world and around the block - the exotic and the familiar. This is how I experience my surroundings, notice, learn, take time to see, to understand, to imagine, and to honor. I like John Audubon's drawings of birds. My drawings of birds are on papers that are 230 years old. How are these papers even still around? They are flyleaves and endpapers from books that were kept in a library. The lovely parts of books are here because someone couldn't bear to throw them away. They were saved and saved and saved and passed along to me, who will continue to save them. The clay animals come from a compulsive act that gives comfort. It's fun to know that a thing that resembles an animal can be coaxed from a ball of clay. I am in awe and amused by this. During the pandemic, I couldn't wait to come home from my day job to work on them. Like the pandemic, it's not over. I'm still working on my exotic herd. The other objects are curated from my extensive collection of string, nails, handmade tools, knick-knacks, and older works of art to provide information about my studio life. To see what inspires my practice of drawing and art-making. I draw, sculpt and collect to communicate the mystery of time and honor a sense of stillness.

- Cynthia Coté, 2021


Cynthia Coté was born and raised downstate Michigan and moved to the UP in 1980, again in 1987, and then in 1992, it stuck. She spent every penny she had on an old mine house in Osceola Location near Calumet and never looked back, having a strong sense that she had come home. Her folks were from L’Anse and Chassell. They had joined the exodus to Detroit in pursuit of work after her father returned from World War II. She remembers traveling to the UP to visit her grandparents as a little girl and thinking how different everything looked. Seeing the houses with snow up to their rooflines, she imagined the houses were arranged close together as if huddling for protection. Growing up in a large family, she learned at a young age how to entertain herself making things using her imagination and whatever she could find. There is a distinct similarity in how she continues to work today – collecting and using simple, easily found materials as inspiration or as subjects of drawings. Themes of comfort and the mystery of time run through her art. Cynthia divides her time between her work as founding director of the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock and her work as an artist. Her studio is on the top floor of her home and everywhere else.