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Cicely Cottingham’s Flags

Gallery Aferro
73 Market Street, 646-220-3772
October 24 - December 5, 2009
Reception: Saturday, October 24, 7 - 10 PM
Web Site

With accompanying essay by Dr. Alejandro Anreus

“If a flag is a symbol, then what do my Flags stand for (or represent)? The psychologist, Carl Jung contrasted the view that a sign stands for something known and a symbol is used to stand for something that is unknown and that cannot be made clear or precise. The meaning of my Flags is certainly unknown to me, except that they continue an exploration of color, form and light and are an emotional reflection of my immediate visual environment: urban, domestic and natural.

Flags are a break from my work of fifteen years—that of single works composed of four panels each. Each Flag is composed of three panels of different dimensions and are acrylic on tracing vellum. As they accumulated, I began to picture them blowing in the wind, suspended from a line, like clothes on a clothesline or Tibetan prayer flags. Using President Obama’s first book, “Dreams from My Father” as a title oracle, I closed my eyes and for each title, pointed a finger to a place on a page. “We don’t have more time” became a title, and so on.”

Cicely Cottingham was born in Brooklyn, New York. After completing studies at Pratt, she lived for a time in Manhattan, Cambridge Massachusetts and England before eventually settling in New Jersey where she had spent her childhood in an old farmhouse surrounded by woods. It was there that she immersed herself in the light that is particular to the New York Atlantic coast. Her childhood environment became her primary creative influence. Other early influences were her mother, Marjorie, who instilled in her a deep satisfaction in the making of things; as well as the first modernist, Cezanne. Her more recent work shows a move to abstraction: color and shape reflect a more urban environment. Her work in design over the last twenty years has provided another fertile ground for expanding her vocabulary as a painter.

Cicely Cottingham has received a Pollock-Krasner Grant, three New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship Awards, a Rutgers Center for Innovative Print and Paper Fellowship Award and a Hereward Lester Cooke Grant. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Newark Museum, and the Institute for Jazz Studies, Rutgers University. Her print Still Life Design for Living (variation): Beauford is in the permanent collections of the Montclair Art Museum, Jersey City Museum, Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, The Noyes Museum of Art, Newark Public Library, the Morris Museum and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Corporate collections include Prudential, Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co., Johnson & Johnson and McGraw Hill. Notable solo exhibitions have been (two) at the Jersey City Museum, the Hunterdon Museum of Art and Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art. Notable group exhibitions are Recent Acquisitions, The Newark Museum; New Jersey Curator’s Choice, Paul Robeson Galleries, Rutgers Newark; Drawing Invitational, the Jersey City Museum; Selections: Aljira and Artists’ Space and Regular Beauties, La Mama’s La Galleria, NY. Cottingham currently lives and works in West Orange, New Jersey. Her work has been written about in the New York Times, New Art Examiner, Review, and Artnet Magazine. Cicely Cottingham’s significant association with the nonprofit visual arts organization Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, NJ dates from 1984 when she was included in their second exhibition. Ajira’s mission is to serve emerging and underrepresented artists. In 1991 she cofounded a revenue generating enterprise, Aljira Design. Cottingham served as Aljira Design’s Art Director from 1996 to 2009
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