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Claire Cowie: In the Vacuum, Outside the Atmosphere

August 6, 2020 - September 26, 2020

An installation image of an exhibition by Claire Cowie. In the foreground, there is a white pedestal with three sculptures on it. One looks like an abstract portrayal of a human face. The middle has a tomato-red, bulbous base and a colorful fabric top, making it resemble a very eccentric lamp. The third has a blue base that looks like painted woven yarn, and a tall, flower or vase-like shape coming out of the base, made up of patchwork colored fabric. In the background, many prize ribbons in varying colors hang on the wall.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery is pleased to present In the Vacuum, Outside the Atmosphere, new paintings, collage, textiles and multilayered paper sculptures by Claire Cowie. Join us online a special presentation at 6:00 pm on Wednesday August 12, 2020 with Claire Cowie.

Claire Cowie’s exhibition In the Vacuum, Outside the Atmosphere explores loss, death and undefined spaces beyond our understanding. Cowie says the work investigates, “the ways in which we make meaning, impose order, and celebrate finding beauty in unanticipated places.” Most of the works including sculptures, are made entirely from paper. Triangular shaped or imperfect scraps of paper highlight the artist’s idiosyncratic style and palette combinations of brilliant hues and dark earth tones.

Cowie uses a quilted patchwork vernacular to create celestial starbursts and mariner’s compass patterning. Her Meditations collage series symbolizes emotional navigation through pain and loss, while large bowl shaped paper sculptures titled Imperfect Vessels simultaneously suggest the strengths and vulnerabilities of the body.

In the Vacuum, Outside the Atmosphere features five distinctive series, and Cowie transforms the gallery space with this multimedia presentation. Through paintings, collage, paper sculptures and textile artworks Cowie thematically explores her own feelings and experiences while inviting engagement and discovery from the viewer.

Claire Cowie attended both the North Carolina School of the Arts (Winston-Salem, NC) and Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO). She received her MFA from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA). Cowie’s work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including shows at the Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA), Takeda Biennial (Oaxaca, Mexico), Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), Frye Art Museum (Seattle, WA), Shenzhen Fine Art Institute (Shenzhen, China) and The Art Gym at Marylhurst University (Marylhurst, OR). Her work is included in the collections of the Henry Art Gallery (Seattle, WA), Microsoft Corporation (Redmond, WA), Safeco (Seattle, WA) and Tacoma Art Museum (Tacoma, WA), among others. In 2017, Cowie completed a large installation for Facebook Artist in Residence (Seattle, WA). Cowie is currently a full-time lecturer at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA) in the Interdisciplinary Visual Arts Program.


August 6, 2020
September 26, 2020
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Wheelchair accessible
Women-owned, Women curated, Women artist(s)
Event Type
Gallery, Visual Art
Pandemic Info


Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209 United States
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