Nicole Cochary has lived in a lot of ZIP codes for a 22-year-old.
Her father worked for the National Park Service, so she spent her childhood living in some of the most beautiful parts of the country — first the Grand Canyon, then Maine, then California’s Bay Area for her high school years.
After her first semester at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, Cochary’s family made another move, that time to Jackson.
“Its funny, when I’m here and people ask me where I’m from, I’ll say Maine, but when I’m in Providence I’ll say Wyoming,” Cochary said. “It’s something I can switch up, which is sometimes fun but can also be confusing to myself, when attempting to identify roots.”
The idea of home — how we define, create and understand it — has been a prevailing theme in Cochary’s artwork since her final years at Brown and, now, her first post-graduate year living in the area.
This month Cochary is hanging “Pet Landscapes and Grounded Tchotchkes,” her debut Jackson show at the Center for the Arts. The show explores how “home” can be defined by both the large, expansive landscapes around us and the small, collected items we accumulate in our physical abodes.
“This series of paintings was an exercise in taking outside landscapes and discovering how they relate to my concept of home,” Cochary said. “I know that my upbringing in national parks has definitely influenced me, but I’m not quite sure how.”
Even while living in some of the most naturally inspiring places in the country, Cochary remains attached to the interior things that help create a personal sense of space, which is where the tchotchkes — trinkets, knickknacks, souvenirs — come in.
Cochary is a collector, and throughout her many moves has kept personal items close at hand. It’s a habit she picked up from her mother, who would balance little tchotchkes on all the artwork in her house. In “Pet Landscapes and Grounded Tchotchkes,” Cochary pays homage to that tradition.
“I don’t think these items are necessary, but for a sentimental person such as myself they do bring me joy,” she said. “For me tchotchkes end up acting as an intermediary in storing memories.”
There will be an opening reception for Cochary’s show from 5 to 6:30 p.m. today at the Center for the Arts and the artist will also host an artist talk and tea from 4 to 5 p.m. on Jan. 16. Both events are free to attend. “Pet Landscapes and Grounded Tchotchkes” will be on display until Jan. 26.
Read more about how Cochary got interested in notions of home in this week's Scene section.