About the Artist
Art is an expression of deeply held truths.
Tory’s pieces reflect how she sees the world - used, gritty, dangerous, but also unexpected, new, interesting and beautiful. She wants to see the raw character of stuff. When juxtaposed, aspects are transformed. Her work is about the fierce joy in life despite everything.
Tory’s work evolves from an abstract expressionist process without a preconceived idea of where the work is going. She responds to the materials and the composition as directly, spontaneously and honestly as she can. She trys to make a symphony of colors, shapes and textures which gives her joy and moves her visually the way music moves her auditorily.
She has a background in carpentry, stonewall building, interior decorating, and woodworking.
She and her husband have an organic farm, Nicks Organic Farm, and much of her materials for her sculptures and jewelry come from old roofing and other objects found on the farm. People also bring her things, especially the bicyclist Dan Lehman, an artist and poet in his own right, who scavenges as he travels around the DC area.
Viewers are invited to fall into and travel around the work seeing different things depending on where they are coming from. Like a poem or improvisational jazz, abstract art should speak to and resonate with something important deep inside..
Harry Cooper, Head of Modern and Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Art chose Tory as Torpedo Factory Artist of the year in 2011.
Cooper’s remarks on the solo show
Living Large by Tory Cowles:
“I was just asked what attracted me to this work. I love painting and I’ve looked at a lot of paintings and I did my dissertation on Mondrian, who, you might think is just the total opposite of this kind of work, but, in fact, in the history of modern painting, there are so many things that are constant among great paintings and that is a sense of how to handle the paint, a deep sense of structure that you have in this work.
And I think it’s pretty rare to find a painter who is very sophisticated and knows about the history of modern art, has that in her brush and yet is not self-conscious, and is not too stylish, and is not second guessing, thinking about what would look good at every minute, and still able to take risks and be spontaneous. I know that’s important to you. And that really comes out in the work, so there’s a lot to see in every one of these paintings.
Yes, they’re beautiful. They’re attractive. There’s a sort of eye candy element. But you have to get past that because there is really exciting handling of paint, use of different materials and techniques and just a lot of joy in the act of painting. So it gives me encouragement that painting is still going on in that good old way.”
Target Gallery, Alexandria, VA