Martha Coaty Headshot
Photography: Camela Langendorf, Varitay Studios
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
GALLERY OF WORK
VISIT THE ARTIST’S WEBSITE

Martha Coaty, Racine

2020 RAM Artist Fellowship Award Recipient

Born in 1960, Martha Coaty lives and works in Wisconsin. Coaty received a BA with a dual emphasis in both journalism and art from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1984. Her work has received many awards and has been featured in exhibitions at various venues including the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend; Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee; and Manhattan Arts, New York. Her work is held in multiple public collections including the Miller Art Museum, Sturgeon Bay; and Mosaic Arts, Inc., Green Bay.

Coaty’s work focuses on found subjects and scenes throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. She states, “Simplicity narrows my approach when finding geometric shapes and color on the landscape. I use stillness to represent the quietness of my subjects. I feel connected to my images in a spiritual sense of how I got here, or why I was there to record what I saw.”

Artist Statement

Photography allows me to observe in a way that takes something that is and makes something that isn’t. “Out of context” best describes my focus on parts of a whole while I elevate the subject to create something new. A background in journalism and advertising encourages me to create work that is objective and appealing. I gauge the quality of my photographs by asking myself if I would enjoy hanging them on my wall. While some images are photojournalistic with commentary on the human condition, the abstract works are simply for the enjoyment of the viewer. With them, I seek to transform details into shapes, colors, and emotional vignettes. Simplicity is my starting point—it gives the viewer an opportunity to slow down and find calm in my compositions. And stillness, when the viewer is engaged with the photograph, provides a staying power.

The Great Lakes region offers industrial and urban settings with planes of color and smooth transitions into wide open spaces of agriculture. There is never a shortage of visual stimulation. Inspiration is external while I find that my observation process comes from within, from my memories and personality. I do strive for images that are straightforward, balanced, and clean. When I am peaceful, everything takes on beauty in and of itself.

Martha Coaty, Racine

2020 RAM Artist Fellowship Award Recipient
Martha Coaty Headshot
Photography: Camela Langendorf, Varitay Studios
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
GALLERY OF WORK
VISIT THE ARTIST’S WEBSITE

Born in 1960, Martha Coaty lives and works in Wisconsin. Coaty received a BA with a dual emphasis in both journalism and art from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1984. Her work has received many awards and has been featured in exhibitions at various venues including the Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend; Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee; and Manhattan Arts, New York. Her work is held in multiple public collections including the Miller Art Museum, Sturgeon Bay; and Mosaic Arts, Inc., Green Bay.

Coaty’s work focuses on found subjects and scenes throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest. She states, “Simplicity narrows my approach when finding geometric shapes and color on the landscape. I use stillness to represent the quietness of my subjects. I feel connected to my images in a spiritual sense of how I got here, or why I was there to record what I saw.”

Artist Statement

Photography allows me to observe in a way that takes something that is and makes something that isn’t. “Out of context” best describes my focus on parts of a whole while I elevate the subject to create something new. A background in journalism and advertising encourages me to create work that is objective and appealing. I gauge the quality of my photographs by asking myself if I would enjoy hanging them on my wall. While some images are photojournalistic with commentary on the human condition, the abstract works are simply for the enjoyment of the viewer. With them, I seek to transform details into shapes, colors, and emotional vignettes. Simplicity is my starting point—it gives the viewer an opportunity to slow down and find calm in my compositions. And stillness, when the viewer is engaged with the photograph, provides a staying power.

The Great Lakes region offers industrial and urban settings with planes of color and smooth transitions into wide open spaces of agriculture. There is never a shortage of visual stimulation. Inspiration is external while I find that my observation process comes from within, from my memories and personality. I do strive for images that are straightforward, balanced, and clean. When I am peaceful, everything takes on beauty in and of itself.

Interview with the Artist, January 2021

Would you please describe your work—what materials you use; what subject matters you explore?

I have long been a techie, receiving my first transistor radio at the age of 7, a clock radio at the age of 11, and my first camera at the age of 13. At 23, I got a 35mm film camera as a gift that I ultimately used for at least 25 years before I made the leap to digital photography in 2009. I am not a gearhead and embraced the Nikon D-90 for everything it gave me: a chance to share my work on my website, to produce it with ease, and to make mistakes. The downside to digital is an overabundance of bad images! I truly have to grapple with that. As opportunities present themselves, I focus on square images for consistency and development. Sometimes though, square is not optimal for an image, so I let my subjects inform the outcome. I look at the broadness of an industrial building and focus on a small detail. Or, I see an open space that features a subject of emotion, structure, and balanced composition.

How often are you in your studio? Do you work outside of your studio much or at all?

As a photographer, I am mostly outside of my home studio. There is something about my space that makes it both art storage and evolving closet. I procrastinate in straightening shipping boxes, my inventory of framed pieces, and other what not…I am not comfortable with this situation!

What inspires you most these days? But also what do you go to bed thinking about most nights?

My inspiration is all of life. Wherever I go, I rely on my higher power to show me what he wants me to see to create something of beauty and simplicity. I am “work before play” type of person. As long as I have done what I needed to do that day, I can rest easy knowing that tomorrow will be another gift to explore.

What does it mean to you to get recognition as a RAM Fellowship artist?

To be a recipient of the RAM Fellowship is an honor. So far, I have been experiencing the normal anxiety of needing to produce work for a show. But it has also allowed me the freedom to be the curator of my own work. This freedom is teaching me to create a series of cohesive photographs that are connected, yet separate. I am humbled that I have been selected for this Fellowship Exhibition with all of its support and generosity.

Gallery of Work

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