Kristen Cochran’s “retrospectator” at TCU’s Moudy Gallery

by Colette Copeland January 24, 2022
Photo of the artist Kristen Cochran working in the TCU Moudy Gallery studio

Kristen Cochran in the TCU Moudy Gallery artist “studio.” Photograph by Colette Copeland

For two weeks, artist Kristen Cochran has transformed Texas Christian University’s Moudy Gallery into an in-situ studio space open to students and the public. The project title cleverly refers to a retrospective with the added connotation of the spectator. I met with Cochran to discuss some of her ideas, works-in-progress and notions of private vs. public space within the gallery context. I’m intrigued by this model within the academic context, as it presents an opportunity to demystify the artist’s process — one that offers art students insight into the life of a professional artist. I wish I had experiences like this during my studies. The gallery walls and floors are covered with photographic sketches, drawings, books, and assemblage sculptures, and while it resembles an artist’s studio space, it is still very clean and sterile. 

An image of photo sketches. A photo of photos and books used by artist Kristen Cochran for her project at TCU Moudy Gallery

Sketch photo. Photograph by Colette Copeland

A photo of an assemblage by Kristen Cochran. The sculpture is an aloe leaf held up between two watermelons resting on a pillow.

“Assemblage 1,” a study in contrasts between soft and hard. Photograph by Colette Copeland

One of the key themes in Cochran’s work is the investigation between digital and physical spaces. She researched private islands for sale, printing screen shots and juxtaposing them with images from “free hot tubs” found on Craigslist. The idea of a personal oasis addresses physical and emotional desire and longing for rest, but also highlights how our wants are fueled by digital fantasy surfing. Many of the hot tub images showed tubs in various states of disrepair, emphasizing a ruptured fantasy, or how fantasy doesn’t hold up to reality. 

At the end of the micro-residency, the artist will present her reflections to the university community in a lecture on January 27 at 12 pm. Expanding upon her ideas, the gallery will also feature her work in a solo exhibition in 2023. 

A work in progress by Kristen Cochran. Mixed media landscape that references pull tab advertisements seen on streets of New York City

A pull tab sketch references the pull tab advertisements so common in Brooklyn, where Cochran recently lived as an artist-in-residence. Photograph by Colette Copeland

An image of different objects in the studio of Kristen Cochran. A mannequin sits on top of a tool chest with a sleep mask on its head.

A mannequin as spectator with a sleep mask for when she is tired of spectating. Photograph by Colette Copeland

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