While employed as a magazine freelancer in the late 1990s, Cottrell established her innovative use of an office computer and electrostatic laser printer, maneuvering the prosaic apparatus to function like a drawing tool—a direct extension of body and mind. Vector-based lines and shapes found in the software tool palette are printed in layers of carbon-based toner onto sheets of handmade paper, creating one-of-a-kind images that traverse drawing and printmaking, painting and photography. In Cottrell’s monochromatic work a distinct vibrational energy reflects a one-on-one relationship with the computer screen and the intangible space within and beyond it.
Stillness occupies the space between viewer and image in a new series of work made by the artist using an archival pigment printer. Here, Cottrell layers transparent color onto rectangular areas of digital ground that have been applied by hand within larger sheets of Mitsumata paper. The luminous pigment, sometimes embedded with subtle grids or lines, interacts with the brushstrokes beneath, creating material images in stark contrast to their virtual origins. As in her black and white work, intermittent scuffs highlight the analog mechanism’s fallibility. Irregularities in the handmade paper itself, including wide, sweeping strokes that bear evidence of the papermaking process, surround the suspended and subtly-dimensional fields of color.
Marsha Cottrell was born in 1964 in Philadelphia, PA, educated at Tyler School of Art (BFA) and UNC Chapel Hill (MFA), and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Cottrell’s solo exhibitions include Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) Raleigh, NC (2019); Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco (2016, 2023); and Eleven Rivington / Van Doren Waxter, NY (2018, 2015, 2022), among others. Group exhibitions include The Blanton Museum, TX (2023); The Morgan Library, NY (2019); Wexner Center for the Arts, OH (2017); and SFMOMA, CA (2012).
The artist has received fellowships and grants from Anonymous Was A Woman, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Cottrell’s work is included in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, IL; Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, TX; Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf; The Morgan Library & Museum, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; North Carolina Museum of Art, NC; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.