Roberta Cory, “Artist Questions with Roberta Cory”
(The London Review, July 7, 2021)
Born in California, Roberta Cory immigrated to London, Ontario in 1999. She holds a BA in Art and secondary level teaching credentials from the University of California, Davis, and an MA from California State University, Chico. As an educator, Cory created a grade six curriculum, and taught art to students at the intermediate, secondary, and university levels. She has volunteered her art teaching experience, studio space, and materials to many teen and adult organizations.
Cory held a studio in London, Ontario from 1999 until 2005, when she moved to Victoria, British Columbia. There, she established the “Vic West Art Quest,” an annual studio tour held on Mother’s Day weekend. In 2010, Cory moved back to London and established a new studio. A mixed media artist, Cory creates three-dimensional works in differing styles, such as low reliefs and textured paintings. She avoids using new materials in her work, instead preferring to repurpose existing materials.
Cory states that Mad Magazine was the most important influence on her art and her sense of irony. The Pop Art movement, assemblage art, Dada, and surrealism inform her theoretically. For example, she created a series of “Plamps” (hybrid plant/lamps) for a group show at the Woodstock Art Gallery (January 22 – February 26, 2005), several of which are carnivorous.
Over the past decade, Roberta Cory’s art has focused on architecture, and she has explored her interest in the development and growth of cities and the impact they have on the land which surrounds them. This interest was apparent in her exhibition Architecture: Lost, Found, and Altered, at Ingersoll, Ontario’s Creative Arts Centre. Featured in this 2014 show was her series, Thamesford Mill, which depicts an historic mill in the village of Thamesford, Ontario. When the mill was torn down that same year, Cory changed the name of her work Thamesford Mill #4 to Absence of the Mill, highlighting the modified connection between the site and the community.
Cory also applies her work to causes about which she is passionate. For example, to display at protests against Enbridge’s Line 9B Pipeline in Ontario and Quebec in 2014, Cory organized the construction of a 30-foot (9.1 metre) long black snake, a puppet which symbolized the pipeline. Following that, she organized another 30-foot snake in repurposed blue fabrics to symbolize water, inviting First Nations students to sew on scales and water droplets.
In 2016, Roberta Cory was among 17 London women honoured with the “Leading Women, Leading Girls, Building Communities” Award in recognition of her service to the London community through leadership and volunteer efforts.
Biography by Roberta Cory, Natalka Duncan, and Luvneet K. Rana
Borthwick, Meg. “Line 9 will ‘snake’ across Ontario and Quebec waterways.” Rabble.ca. March 10, 2014. http://rabble.ca/news/2014/03/line-9-will-snakeacross-ontario-and-quebec-waterways/.
Cory, Roberta. “Artist Questions with Roberta Cory.” The London Review
(July 7, 2021). https://img1.wsimg.com/blobby/go/7ec5d83f-1197-4fde-9136-126ffccf300b/downloads/TLR%20July%202021.pdf?ver=1625679737030.
Cory, Roberta. ”Roberta Cory, Home Page.” Roberta Cory. http://www.robertacory.com/.
Cory, Roberta. “Roberta Cory artist resume.” Roberta Cory. http://robertacory.com/RobertaCoryArtistResume.pdf.
Cory, Roberta. “Roberta Cory Artist Statement.” Roberta Cory. http://robertacory.com/RobertaCoryArtistStatement.pdf.
Cory, Roberta. “Roberta Cory, Show, Ingersoll Creative Arts Centre.”
Roberta Cory. http://robertacory.com/RobertaCoryWebsite_files/Page1010.htm and http://robertacory.com/RobertaCoryWebsite_files/Page395.htm.
Cory, Roberta. “Roberta Cory biography for Ingersoll show.” Roberta Cory. http://robertacory.com/BiographyIngersoll.pdf.
Cory, Roberta. “Roberta Cory artist statement for Ingersoll show.”
Roberta Cory. http://robertacory.com/StatementIngersoll.pdf.
Stacey, Megan. “Lament for a lost landmark.” The London Free Press,
August 12, 2014. https://lfpress.com/2014/08/12/lament-for-a-lost-landmark.
McInnes. Angela. “London NDP MPPs continue cancelled program honouring female community builders. The Interrobang. March 15, 2019. https://www.theinterrobang.ca/article?aID=14619.
NDP London West. “Leading Women, Leading Girls, Building Communities Award Recognition Reception.” London West NDP. https://www.londonwestndp.ca/mrowlinsonmaccom/2016/4/26/leading-womenleading-girls-building-communities-award-recognition-reception.
I received an BA in Art from the University of California, Davis, where I studied with Pop Artists Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, and William Wiley. Course work covered figure drawing, ceramics, sculpture, painting, art history, architectural history, and art theory. During my fifth year I took courses towards a secondary teaching credential while doing graduate work in Philosophy, leading towards a Master’s degree in Aesthetics.
Resuming my education after raising two children, I began a Master’s program at California State University, Chico, returning to the subject matter which had interested me twenty years before while at the University of California, Davis. I crafted an interdisciplinary Master’s degree with courses in Sculpture, Continental Philosophy, and Art Education. Of profound influence was Professor Michael Bishop, known for his assemblage sculptures found in many public places in California. I designed a curriculum for 6th grade students to foster creative thinking, which was based upon my interpretation of the writings of the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger. After one year of university teaching at California State University, Chico, I rented studio space downtown and began my art career. In 1999, I immigrated to Canada, and have had studios in London, Ontario and Victoria, British Columbia.
Although I took art courses in high school, as a teenager, Mad Magazine was most influential in teaching me about irony. My art is informed by the strangeness and playfulness of free association found in Pop Art, Dada, and Surrealism. I am interested in the juxtaposition of opposites, which can cause cognitive paradigm shifts. For me, composition, technique, and colour lure the viewer to linger on the art while conceptual categories and boundaries are challenged.
I am interested in the juxtaposition of differing sensibilities in the built environment. The tensions and commonalities that arise from a lack of top-down city planning register the awkwardness of growth and record the imaginations and economic realities that converged in the design of each building. At ground level I am interested in suburban sprawl, inner city redevelopment, and abandoned monuments from an agricultural past. From the air I am interested in the marks and scars left by humans on natural systems and geographies.
My mixed media constructions vary from low relief to textured paintings. Whenever possible I try to recycle cultural waste into my work instead of consuming new materials. I reject the rectangular format, which symbolizes a “view” of the world, and substitute a “piece” or “sample” of the world. I take photos of buildings, often from extreme angles, and cut them up, deliberately removing any trace of the background. I cut the contour of the building out of plywood, build up a skeleton, and “skin” it with plaster gauze. I then sculpt the surface out of Dyna Patch, an extremely hard crack-filler. I use trompe l’oeil painting techniques, playing between the viewer’s bodily knowledge in the presence of a three-dimensional object and conflicting visual knowledge from perception.
I am an art activist. I have always shared my experience, studio space, and materials with volunteer groups. As a passionate member of the progressive community in London, Ontario, I use my art to further political, ethical, and sociological projects, which are necessary to combat the nihilism of late capitalism.
Artist’s Statement Courtesy of Roberta Cory
CV Courtesy of Roberta Cory
Click here for information about works by Roberta Cory
in McIntosh Gallery’s collection.