Sneak Peek: Potential and Possibility - Deborah Coffey

Deborah Coffey is a mixed-media artist who exhibits and teaches visual art and design nationally and internationally. A recipient of a Pollock-Krasner grant in support of artistic development; she leads private and group workshops that combine empathy practices with art as a way to inspire creativity, and explore personal potential. Coffey’s practice includes painting, collage, installation and 3-D assemblage; often with far from conventional materials. The experience of surprise is a significant aspect of the work. 

My artwork embodies themes of nature, spirituality, magical realism and sometimes the political,” Coffey explains. “I work primarily in mixed media because it allows me—through playful discovery—to create wonder, and explore new perspectives.”

Growing up under challenging and ever-changing circumstances, Coffey learned how to scout out resources in every new situation, from which to make things. A skein of industrial string found in the alley, cellophane tape, sticks from the under the apple tree and mud mixed with white glue provided endless possibilities to a nine-year-old budding artist. A sense of wonder, curiosity and possibility fueled a creative drive then and today.

Trained in painting, drawing and conceptual art, Coffey’s mediums span painting, collage, drawing, installation and 3-D assemblage. Ideas and concepts drive the process infusing her work with something to think about when viewed. She often looks for unusual combinations of materials and images to make meaning in her work. It is the things that don’t belong together that sometimes make the most sense. Coffey was the only student in her Catholic girls’ high school who wore black figure skates (blades removed) with her school uniform. In that same spirit, innovative solutions and unusual combinations delightfully prevail in her artwork. 

My work is currently on exhibit in Harrisonburg at the Arts Council Smith House Galleries from January 6 through January 27, 2023.

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