MOCA Jacksonville opens Maud Cotter exhibit in Project Atrium Series

MOCA Jacksonville opens Maud Cotter exhibit in Project Atrium Series
© Maud Cotter, the moon is falling, 2018. Plastic sheeting, prestia, aeroboard, stainless steel, dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist and domobaal. Photo by Adam Reich.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) will unveil its latest exhibit in its Project Atrium series Saturday, July 9.

Irish artist Maud Cotter will begin installing her exhibit, “Maud Cotter: what was never ours to keep” in MOCA Jacksonville’s designated Project Atrium space the week prior to its opening. The installation process will also be visible to the public, partly, to “demystify” contemporary art, said MOCA Jacksonville Senior Curator Ylva Rouse.

“It’s a way of not only bringing down the artist to the public level but also it’s exciting to participate in it,” said Rouse. “They’re able to talk to the artist and just be part of the creation of it which is always very exciting.”

Just steps from the main lobby — 40 feet high and 30 feet wide —the atrium is one MOCA Jacksonville’s “most commanding spaces.”

Rouse said Cotter’s approach to her work is “about investigating our relationship with matter and she does it from a very poetic viewpoint.”

Cotter is a renowned artist, both in Ireland and worldwide. This will be her first time in Jacksonville. Her work is primarily sculptural and therefore she said her initial “sculptural instinct” was to take on the full height of the atrium. The resulting project will be a suspended, vertical piece extending down from the middle beam, with different elements then spilling across the floor.

“They’re quite incisive lines,” Cotter said. “I’m looking forward to that. My feeling really was that they would generate a new sort of spacial energy in the space by virtue of just slicing it like that and, if you like, create a different dynamic there.”

Furthering her exploration and investigation of humans’ relationship with matter, Cotter is very deliberate when selecting the materials for her work, Rouse said. This exhibit, Rouse said, includes mild steel rather than stainless steel because its main alloy is carbon, which is also one of the four key elements in the human body.

“She presents [these materials] to the viewer in an installation essentially making visible the world of matter that is usually invisible and putting it in a monumental scale so they’re equal, not only the so-called natural and manmade, but also equal to us with the hope, I think, with the hope of making us think about that relationship we have with the world around us, with nature,” said Rouse.

The title of her installation is the final line in Jim Moore’s poem, “Poem that Ends at the Ocean.” Moore penned the poem during the COVID-19 lockdown. An article by Timothy Hull, PhD on the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ website states, “Moore speaks to the trauma of a never-in-our-lifetime experience of a pandemic quarantine. The themes of loss, grief, mourning and adaptation slowly emerge from the quiet three stanzas.”

“It’s a very, very gentle phrase — it’s a bit nudgey,” Cotter said. “…and the work will hopefully also make one feel this sense of things flooding through our fingers. We’re allowing things to pass through us and we should be more careful.”

Launched in 2011, MOCA Jacksonville’s Project Atrium was inspired by “Imagination Squared,” an exhibit of nearly 1,000 five-inch canvases created by Jacksonville residents of all ages and professions. Hosted by MOCA Jacksonville, the exhibit was held in the atrium space.

“That’s where it started and here we are 10 years later and it’s continuing to be a challenge and a really exciting opportunity for artists because they’re forced to think outside the box, outside of their usual way of being in the space,” said Rouse.

MOCA Jacksonville will host a brunch opening on Saturday, July 9 at 11 a.m. to launch Cotter’s exhibit. The event will be open to the public and Cotter will be present to discuss her work.

By Michele Leivas
Resident Community News

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