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February 21- March 22, 2015

Opening reception: Saturday, February 21, 2015  3:00 - 7:00pm

Live acoustic music with the band Uncle at 4:30pm


In the seminal Understanding Media. The Extensions of Man (1964), Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan stated that “An abstract painting represents direct manifestation of creative thought processes as they might appear in computer designs.” In PATTERN RECOGNITION, Colleen Flaherty’ s creative thought process is made visible for the viewer. Acting as a juncture between the machinic and the natural, the archaic and the modern, she acts as a radar, an early warning system. “The serious artist - adds McLuhan - is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because [she] is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception”. The inorganic is therefore unmasked and unpacked: behind the screen lies a microprocessor. But chips are made of silicon, that is, sand: under the technical, lies the natural. Sand snakes leave traces and Flaherty has captured them all: lines of codes, curves, layers of information.

As Sherry Turkle wrote in Alone, Together (2012), we shape our tools and our tools shape us. They also redefine what it means to be human. The artist is a vigilant sentinel, because unlike others, she is immune to their subtle effects. According to McLuhan, “No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.” What Flaherty does in her latest works is “to pick messages of cultural and technological challenge decades before its transforming impact occurs.” As such, she is a woman of “integral awareness”, one who can visualize the technical through the artist gesture.  

Flaherty’s intuitive yet highly sophisticated use of abstraction comes at no surprise. As McLuhan noted, abstract art “offers a central nervous system for a work of art, rather than the conventional husk of the old pictorial image."PATTERN RECOGNITION, is a set of maps of the contemporary visual age dominated by circuit boards. These paintings form the cartography of a new territory, both inner and outer. These paintings are not symptoms, but offer a diagnosis, a verdict. “Just as higher education is no longer a frill or luxury but a stark need of production and operational design in the electric age, so the artist is indispensable in the shaping and analysis and understanding of the life of forms, and structures created by electric technology.”

Flaherty's canvas is a framing device: screens and windows are transformed, and so are their values, purposes, and meanings. The Technical and the Natural. A new visual language for a new kind of viewer. Patterns await recognition.


Colleen Flaherty is a visual artist trained as a painter and a sculptor. Her abstract paintings act as a juncture between the machinic and the natural, and the archaic and the modern. Flaherty uses her craft and woodworking skills to create works that invite the viewer to engage with art in a tactile, tangible way.

She received her M.F.A. in Painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002 and her B.F.A. Cum Laude, with emphasis in Painting and Drawing, Minor in Music from San Jose State University in 1999. Her work has been presented in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland (USA), Montevideo (UR), and Pienza (IT). In 2012 she started COLL.EO with Matteo Bittanti. COLL.EO has exhibited in Paris (FR) , Buenos Aires (AR), Toronto (CA), Mexico City (MX), San Francisco (USA), and at collateral exhibitions of the XII Havana Biennial, Havana (CU). She is a co-founder of Random Parts, an artist run gallery in Oakland. Flaherty works between Northern California and Northern Italy.