Polly Coté


The studio of the house where I live in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has a north window and three skylights to admit the famous light of this peninsula town. I lived on Mount Desert Island and I spent twenty years there, walking the carriage paths and absorbing the dramatic landscape. I have also lived in Connecticut, where I was born, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Nigeria.

My art education began at the Hartford Art School Saturday morning classes when I was in grade school. I studied art wherever I could: at Smith College, at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, at the Center for Adult Education in Cambridge, the Princeton Art Association, the University of Hawaii and Dartmouth College. I still take workshops in drawing, painting, and printmaking in Provincetown and Truro. Although I have served as adjunct professor and enjoyed teaching at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, I consider myself more of a learner than a teacher.

Part of my continuing education involves drawing from a model every week. In addition to improving my skills of observation and dexterity, I feel that drawing enables me to reach a state of selflessness that opens me wholly to the possibilities of artistic expression.

My paintings and prints have been included in group shows and one-person shows in galleries and museums in New Jersey, Maine, New Hampshire, Washington D.C. and Massachusetts — most recently at the Cape Cod Museum of Art, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum and the Provincetown Fine Arts Works Center.

Among honors I have received, I was commissioned to illustrate “Poems for Sutton Island”, by Hortense Flexner, and in 1997 I was chosen by the Outer Cape Cod Residency Consortium for an artist’s residency in a dune shack in Provincetown. It was my pleasure to serve on the exhibits committee of the Union of Maine Visual Artists and as the treasurer of the UMVA for three years. I’m now on the membership committee of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum where I monitor the drawing group.

Artist’s Statement:

Observing and drawing the world is my greatest challenge and joy. Painting and printmaking are ways for me to bring color, movement and imagination to my observations.

The pleasure of printmaking, to me, is the element of surprise that each print method insinuates into the finished print. While I am working, I have a dialogue with my method. I want my favorite motifs – birds, trees and the human figure – to express movement and vitality. The challenge for me is to interact with the static impress of a rigid plate or woodblock and, using color and line and form, come up with a dynamic image. The resulting print is, I hope, the happy union between my creative intent and the print process’s firm magic.

In whatever I make –print or drawing or painting – I am asking those who view my work if this is possibly what the world is. My pictures are, in effect, completed by those who look at them.