Story Time in the Land of Second Chances


Bay College announces the reception for the exhibition, Story Time in the Land of Second Chances, artwork by Cynthia Cote.

Cynthia Cote was born and raised downstate 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 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 grandparents as a little girl and thinking how different everything looked. Seeing the houses with snow up to their roof lines she imagined the houses were arranged close together as if huddling for protection.

Cynthia works in her studio above her home in Osceola Location near Calumet. Growing up in a large family, she learned at a young age how to entertaining herself and stay out of the way. There is a distinct similarity in the way in which she continues to work today – collecting and using simple, easily found materials to create unconventional books and drawings. Themes of home and family and comfort run through her art.

Artist Statement:
I am making art to interpret the weird circumstances of my life. The text on the pages of the books is like internal chatter or background noise that we tolerate. When combined with the drawings of people it also represents the thoughts and stories we don’t know... copied in French or written backwards in cursive, even made up letters in the pretty Russian alphabet.

I have been using old photographs as inspiration and subjects for my art for a long time. First as collage materials but then more recently, taking an interest in drawing, giving them over to my hand for interpretation. This just seems richer to me. I want to document something else, that moment when the photographer pressed the button, forever capturing that one dear moment.

The relatives are holding very still and their lives are a mystery. Sometimes I give them a dog and then everything seems right. The drawings feel familiar. Aunties in the yard. Grandpa out by the woodpile. Being a little kid in the big back seat of a car. That single moment when the shutter clicked. My would-be relatives. And yours. Our family album.

The exhibition of her work can be viewed at the Besse Gallery from October 20 - November 25, 2015 with the Opening Reception on Tuesday, October 20th at 1pm.
Bay College Main,
2001 N Lincoln Road, Escanaba, MI 49829
906.786.5802 Main Campus Directions