A Story of Culverts

May 1, 2023

I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. – Picasso

Looking west from the Big River Haul Road

On the Haul Road that runs along Big River above the old quarry, enormous metal culverts are strewn on the ground, brand new and waiting to be placed..

But before these had arrived, when Mina Cohen walked or biked the haul road, she would see the old corrugated culverts that had been dug out of the earth, rusted and muddy, crushed like fabric, twisted, and piled up.

“I do a lot of thinking about things that inspire me when traveling, and especially while bike riding. I keep lots of ideas for series in my head (I always work in series)."

During repeated visits to the site, she took photographs and began to plan the paintings that she is showing this May at Partners Gallery.

“I was drawn to these culverts in particular, by their texture, pattern, and color, which have always been important elements in my work."

"In these paintings I limited the color palette to the colors of the deteriorated culverts themselves. (Though brighter non-real colors did sneak in. Can’t help myself.)”

The final images have hints of what the objects were, but are abstracted to a great degree.

"I often think about Picasso and Braque, who looked at people, objects, and architecture, and transformed them into abstractions. I like to take a real three-dimensional object and render it on flat paper or canvas as if you can see all sides at once. Flattening out these round, ridged objects and at the same time, keeping perspective in depth is quite a challenge."

Channels, mixed media and collage by Mina Cohen

"I chose to work in a small format, as this size reminds me of a tableau. I take something large, and reduce it down to a more intimate size, and it’s like looking into a diorama or through a window.”

I hope you can see these vibrant paintings in person.

Miriam Davis
Back to blog posts