Celeste Cooning settles in at her worn work table in the Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts for what will be a long night — at 1:30 p.m.
Her company: her handmade templates, her trusty X-Acto knife #11, a couple dozen yards of white Tyvek and the radio, currently tuned in to KEXP.
In fewer than 24 hours, the Seattle artist needs to finish transforming the Tyvek — woven from high-density fibers, the material is hard to tear but easy to cut — into the backdrop for a wedding at Benaroya Hall. The two 10-foot-wide panels have been in the works since spring, but like many of Cooning’s projects, this backdrop will culminate in a down-to-the-wire production night.
Cooning’s backdrops are tapestry-meets-paper snowflake — and they range from small projects to 2010’s ”Celebrations” installation at Occidental Park, which was suspended 30 feet in the air and spanned 70 feet wide. Her work combines airy, elegant shapes with the toughness of Tyvek. She usually works in white because it picks up nuances of light and shadow, which is what her work is about, she says.
Responsible for the huge backdrops at City Hall weddings the day same-sex marriage became legal in Washington state, Cooning also creates pieces for storefronts, celebrations and city parks. One of her new projects is a piece for the John Ritter Foundation, which focuses on aortic disease education and research.