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Symptomatic

Center on Contemporary Art (CoCA) presents “Symptomatic,” featuring artworks from Portland artist and 2013 Bonnie Bronson Fellowship awardee, Cynthia Lahti, and internationally exhibited artist and lecturer, Harriet Sanderson.  On view from June 2 – 25, 2016 at CoCA PS35 in Pioneer Square. Curated by Nichole DeMent, these two artists produce works of art that engage the tensions found in a world that struggles for balance. “Their bold work is about that vulnerable interplay between self-identification and culture, yet their fun, Neo-Expressionist style provides levity and an abstract beauty which allows us to reflect and transcend the tension,” says DeMent.

Cynthia Lahti’s art encompasses drawing, collage, and ceramic sculpture combined with found objects in an intentional naïve style that include tossed out toys, glass vases and various types of containers. These upcycled objects such as ribbons and party decorations seem to represent ephemera from a simpler previous era. She then alters, manipulates, and integrates the found materials into the final artwork to expose contradictions that exist within the form while referencing the figure. Some of her forms are in a position of vulnerability or pain, yet also appear to be in a profound state of peace or ecstasy. Lahti’s work retains a strong reference to the real world while expressing the intangible world of emotion.

“My art is influenced by human artifacts from ancient times to the present, as well as by my personal experiences and emotions. I draw inspiration from objects and images, both historical and contemporary. I seek in my art to force a deeper explanation of reality and to facilitate a connection with a larger human experience,” says Lahti. “The conjoined materials subvert and liberate one another and provide humor, as well as chaos. Each artwork weds and combines the sacred with the profane, the wise with the stupid, and the beautiful with the grotesque.”

CoCA is honored to present Harriet Sanderson’s mixed media prints and sculptural installation which embrace the idea that the physical body is the architect of experience and identity. Sanderson has lectured and exhibited sculpture and printmaking within civil rights frameworks around the country.Conceptually, her work unabashedly explores how chronic illness, aging, and disability complicates self-identity.

With a background in traditional printmaking, her digital images are constructed in much the same way– she layers scans of her own skin, previous work, and mattress pads, then draws on the surface with pen and ink. Sanderson states about her work, “With this tactile and vulnerable imagery of skin on display, I pursue the way our cultural repugnance of the imperfect human body creates a struggle toward identity, an identity that lies somewhere between the ‘damaged’ and ‘normal.’” Her fragments of photographs, irregular marks and torn pieces of paper combine to create art that transcends cultural stigmas and highlights a proclivity towards beauty, fun and expressive play.

“Symptomatic” is an exploration of the isolation of the human condition and the alienation engendered by modern society, but also provides artworks that creatively represent a greater empathy for a global civilization and expanding human consciousness.

On view June 2-25

CoCA at PS35: 106 Cherry Street, Seattle, WA 98104

Gallery Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 1-7pm

CoCA serves the Pacific Northwest as a catalyst and forum for the advancement, development, and understanding of Contemporary Art

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