"Much of my work revolves around notions of place, identity, alienation and impermanence. I have been obsessed with places and histories that have been marginalized or are on the fringe of popularity. Working with this content involves repositioning history by way of visual and semiotic relationships, images, objects and architecture. Rather than working in any one specific medium, I prefer to allow content to dictate materials. This allows for the inherent quality and language of different media from wood and cardboard to photography and sound to communicate efficiently. Working with modular elements allows a flexibility to creating environments that respond specifically to individual spaces. These elements are often fabricated to mimic content in an artificial way, (ie real wood masked with wood-grained contact paper) creating a secondary, or artificial relationship that falls short of authentic – similar to the history I am referencing. I relish in working with the elastic qualities of materials such as Aquaresin, even as I try to manipulate traditional materials such as wood do things it doesn't want to do. While the overall image reads as a narrative, the details reveal nuances, allowing the work to appear frank on a macro level and complex on a micro level."
As a former explorer, frustrated architect and aspiring social examiner, Derek Coté received his MFA in sculpture and extended media at Virginia Commonwealth University and BFA at Western Washington University in sculpture and photography. He has exhibited nationally and internationally including exhibitions at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Tacoma Art Museum, Art Museum of the University of Memphis, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Houston Center for Photography, Exit Art, AC Institute and Roebling Hall in New York City, Marmara University in Istanbul, Marc DePuechredon Gallery in Basel and Artwave Radio in Athens, Greece. In addition,Coté has received a professional artist fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, support grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Tennessee Arts Commission and was an artist-in-residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art and the Arctic Circle, an artist and scientist-led research expedition to the high arctic.
Coté crossed America by car five times and visited 46 of the contiguous states and most Canadian provinces. As a result, travel and exploration have since become integral to his creative research for what they don't provide – predictability, stability and safety. His work focuses on ideas of perception as a function of place and experience, and employs a wide range of materials and media.