Tory Cowles – Artist Statement Art is an expression of deeply held truths. I like to
combine disparate materials in my sculptures. Raw materials like used copper or
corrugated roofing, old chicken wire and fencing, truck mud flaps, bones, evoke
time, weather, growing things, and for me represent the challenges and
hardships of life which force us to grow and learn. Brocades and antique silk
saris, musical instruments and chess sets, wool felt balls and candles represent
man’s effort to create beauty and bring order and joy in life. When these diverse
materials are juxtaposed, sophistication is combined with hardship. They
elucidate and transform each other. The sophistication of the brocade or silk
next to the old roofing allows one to see the subtlety and beauty of the multiple
peeling layers of paint. The rough strength and dignity of the decades old roofing
adds gravitas and grittiness to the fine brocade. Lately I have been making large
installations which are an outgrowth of my sculptures. They are designed to be
interacted with by visitors or modern dancers, thus bringing them alive and
allowing people to become a part of them. My work is about the fierce joy in life.
It reflects how I view the world – warped, gritty, difficult, but also unexpected,
new, interesting, interrelated and beautiful.
Tory Cowles Grew up in
Shelburne, Vermont and attended Bennington College. Worked for five years as
a carpenter and helps her husband with their organic farm in Frederick Co.
Maryland. Started painting representationally in college and continued while
working and raising children. When her children began school full time, she
started painting abstractly and made a decision to commit herself to making art
full time. Has operated a studio in the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria VA since
about 2000 and has been an active member of Touchstone Gallery in
Washington DC for even longer, now serving as president. She teaches abstract
painting and collage at Glen Echo Park’s Yellow Barn Studios in Glen Echo
Maryland. She has shown widely in the Washington DC and NYC areas. Her
work first evolved from representational painting to abstract expressionist
painting in the 1990’s. Inspired by Robert Rauschenberg, her work began to
break away from the rectangular canvas and she used her carpentry skills and
many objects from their farm to make sculptures and to combine paintings with
sculptures. In the last three years, she has been making sculptures and
installations and inviting dancers to interact with them. While still influenced by
Rauschenberg, especially where it comes to integrating dance with installations
or sculpture, lately she has been inspired by Angel Otero, Oscar Murillo, Jean
Tinguely, Phyllida Barlow and Sara Sze.
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