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Tyna Ontko

The Shape of Evidence

Tyna Ontko scavenges natural and industrial materials and recomposes them alongside yellow cedar carvings that resemble objects of utility: a mortar and pestle, a quern-stone, a sundial… each chosen and arranged with intention to evoke movement or collective action.

Tyna Ontko. Photographic study, La Wayaka Current, 2022
  • September 1 - 29, 2022
  • Opening: Thursday, September 1, 6:00 — 8:00pm

The document is a monument. It is the result of the effort made by historical societies to impose, voluntarily or involuntarily, a certain image of themselves into the future. – Sophie Berrebi. ‘The Shape of Evidence’, 2004.

Origin stories written about everyday occurrences have a way of turning into epic sagas, e.g., the relationship between traditional stargazing practices and the development of increasingly powerful telescopes. Mining the microhistories of objects and materials allows Ontko to investigate the architecture of what is yet to come and to set a stage on which meaning is made, where stories are spun, where monuments take form.

The Shape of Evidence conveys her openness to the idea that we are beings defined by our position within a network of others and that the world is equivalent to the information we hold. The moment we change the principles on which our knowledge is based, our perceived reality shifts.

During an artist residency with La Wayaka Current in the Coyo Community of the Atacama Desert, Ontko produced a small collection of photographs and writings which served as impetus for The Shape of Evidence. The sculptures on display in this exhibition are inspired by memories of tools used by the Coyo to view the stars, wayfind in the dark, and grind substances down for medicinal and culinary purposes. Free from an obligation to labor, they are ripe with queer curiosity and imaginative potential.

This exhibition has been generously supported by a 4Culture Arts Project Grant.

About the Artist

Tyna Ontko is an interdisciplinary artist working in sculpture, photography, and installation. She received her BFA from Western Washington University in 2D media/installation and art history. Ontko has attended residencies at Black Church Print Studio in Dublin, Ireland, La Wayaka Current in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, and the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, among others. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, with exhibitions at the San Francisco Art Institute, Kunsthalle Kohta in Helsinki, Finland, and the Tacoma Art Museum. She has been the recipient of regional and national funding including a GAP Grant through Artist Trust, and the Undergraduate Fellowship through the Southern Graphics Council. Her artwork is included in the permanent collection of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s North Terminal. She currently resides in Seattle, WA, where she was recently nominated as a finalist for the Neddy Artist Award in the Open Medium Category. In addition to her own practice, she is a member and curator with contemporary art space, SOIL Gallery.