Coco Bruner



Coco Bruner earned a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Questioning what works in a drawing, she aims to create images that feel alive. She also works in other media including painting, text, video, and sculpture, often using humor to raise questions beneath the surface. She has exhibited her work in Michigan, Illinois and New York, and has received a grant from the Public Benefit Corporation of Detroit and an award from the Kreft Center for the Arts in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Top Right Photo Credit: Steve Boni

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Bruner’s project is presented as part of the Art X Detroit 2015 Visual Arts Exhibition. A typical floor offers an idealized version of the ground, flattened and smoothed out, a form of spatial background noise that we often ignore. Normal Shift upends that notion of a floor. Conceptually located at a meeting point between sculptural object, three-dimensional drawing, and architectural intervention, the piece invites participants to confront assumptions that underlie everyday experience.

The alternative floor, ten-and-a-half feet wide and fifteen feet long, rises and falls in interrupted patterns. A pathway cuts through the slightly tilted field. To either side, the floor buckles and dips. As visitors make their own way across the space, they are invited to experience choice, mild risk, the nature of balance as a process, and the necessity of consciously considering what we usually take for granted.


Normal Shift operates at a meeting point between drawing, sculpture, and architectural intervention. In drawing attention to the floor, it focuses awareness on what we take for granted as fundamental, especially where that is unexamined or rapidly changing, and not what we assumed.

This piece grew out of my work in drawing. That work is rooted in physical process, personal history, and questions about perception, illusion, and relationship in different kinds of spaces. The drawings begin with gestures, in a spirit of experiment and risk-taking, and evolve through my responses to what’s on the paper at each moment. The following are a few specific influences on that body of work: the culture and terrain of Norway; the contemporary art, Cubist paintings and 19th-century landscapes I saw in Oslo; a bout of vertigo and its aftermath; and exposure to ideas and imagery in mathematics.

In Normal Shift I am extending those concerns into four dimensions and viewer participation. Here, touch is as important as vision. Visitors are invited to enter and engage the space physically. What seems easy to one person may be daunting for another, as balance, usually an automatic process, becomes a conscious one. Finding one’s way across the floor evokes the interaction of vision, touch, and thought, and throws light on each participant’s manner of making choices. It is also a shared experience, as participants learn from each others’ progress and negotiate shared space.

The processes people go through as they walk Normal Shift parallel those in other situations, from the massive, complicated decision-making involved on a social scale, to the choices that cumulatively produce a drawing. The marks and traces participants leave behind will gradually produce a kind of drawing on its surface.