Currently Closed
Marvin Touré
the blood is the water.
View Exhibition
Catalina Schliebener Muñoz
Deep, Deep Woods
View Exhibition
Isla Hansen
How to Get to Make Believe
View Exhibition
Andrea Peña
States of Transmutation
View Exhibition
Asim Waqif
Assume the Risk
View Exhibition
Shohei Katayama
As Below, So Above
View Exhibition

After School

Teen Summer Workshop Series
Our Mission

The Mattress Factory is an artist-centered museum, international residency program and renowned producer and presenter of installation art. We say “yes” to artists, offering time and space to dream and realize projects in our hometown, Pittsburgh, PA. We invite audiences from around the world and around the corner to step inside, immerse and connect with the artistic process.

Learn More About Us

Sonya Kelliher-Combs

Credible, Small Secrets


Credible is a series addressing the overwhelming abuse of the Catholic Church in the State of Alaska.

This play is a reflection on the (im)possibility of accepting diversity and the other. The fragmented body of the neoplasm—the fruit of unstable conditions—overcomes barriers, loves and denies itself and others, wanders around, forgetting its profession. It frequently and with pleasure divides, goes through dangerous palpation, questions the possibility of contact with the experience of the other. Poorly brought up but very successful, it invites us to a trans-species transition.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce at elit quis felis ullamcorper vehicula non in est. Maecenas finibus pharetra justo et faucibus. Nulla eu tortor vel ex volutpat efficitur. Vivamus placerat turpis in aliquet venenatis. Quisque ac lacinia mauris. Nam quis lobortis elit. Vestibulum sagittis nisi sit amet euismod hendrerit. Mauris non sodales odio. Donec efficitur molestie quam, sed lobortis massa vestibulum ut.

Nunc at arcu sodales nisi porta euismod non vel neque. Phasellus at lobortis ante, in suscipit justo. Proin non purus vitae nisi molestie consectetur. Vestibulum volutpat lobortis interdum. Vestibulum pretium ligula lorem, egestas ultricies lectus ultricies ac. Curabitur venenatis vulputate dolor.

Title of the work: Credible II
Materials: Acrylic polymer, paper map, human hair, birch panel 

Title of the work: Credible, Idiot Strings
Materials: Printed fabric, wool, steel wire, nylon thread, glass bead

Title of the work: Credible, Alaska
Materials: Projected and painted video installation 

capable of being believed; convincing
Worthy of belief; trustworthy

Credible is a series addressing the overwhelming abuse of the Catholic Church in the State of Alaska. It continues a series I have been exploring in 2007. These paintings represent the 35 villages that have credible claims of abuse by the hand of those sent to save them. Below each work is a list of those accused. This information was generously shared by Kyle Hopkins from the Anchorage Daily News, his research was obtained from Jesuits West and supplemented with a report by the Catholic Diocese of Fairbanks that lists “all known individuals, including priests, religious, lay employees and volunteers against whom a complaint of sexual abuse has been filed by one or more individuals” and against whom the abuse has been proven, admitted or “credibly accused.” These are the credible claims the Church acknowledges – we all know there are many more victims all around the world whom have died of countless diseases; mental illness, suicide, alcoholism & drug abuse - before this information came to light. 

Curated by Tavia La Follette

Artist Statement

Through visual art, community engagement, curation and advocacy Kelliher-Combs works to create opportunity and feature Indigenous voices and the work of contemporary artists who through their work inform and encourage social action. Her personal mixed-media visual art focuses on the changing north and our relationship to nature and each other.

Traditional women's work has taught her to appreciate the intimacy of intergenerational knowledge and material histories. These experiences and skills have allowed Kelliher-Combs to examine the connections between Western and Indigenous cultures, and to investigate notions of interwoven identity through her work. Personal and cultural symbolism forms the imagery. These symbols speak to history, culture, family and the life of her people. They also speak about abuse, marginalization and the historical and contemporary struggles of Indigenous peoples. Kelliher-Combs currently lives and works in Anchorage, Alaska.


Pop-Aganda: Revolution & Iconography: April 16, 2022 – December 18, 2022
About The Artist

Sonya Kelliher-Combs was raised in the Northwest Alaska community of Nome. Her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and her Master of Fine Arts is from Arizona State University. Through her mixed media painting, sculpture, and installation Kelliher-Combs offers a chronicle of the ongoing struggle for self-definition and identity in the Alaskan context. Her combination of shared iconography with intensely personal imagery demonstrates the generative power that each vocabulary has over the other. Similarly, her use of synthetic, organic, customary, and modern materials moves beyond oppositions between Western/Native culture, self/other, and man/nature, to examine their interrelationships and interdependence. Kelliher-Combs' process dialogues the relationship of her work to skin, the surface by which an individual is mediated in culture. 

Kelliher-Combs’ work has been shown in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Alaska, the United States, and internationally, including the national exhibition Changing Hands 2: Art without Reservation and SITELINES: Much Wider Than a Line. She is a recipient of the prestigious United States Arts Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Fellowship, Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art, Rasmuson Fellowship and is a recipient of the 2005 Anchorage Mayors Arts Award and 2010 Alaska Governor’s Individual Artist Award. Her work is included in the collections of the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Anchorage Museum, University of Alaska Museum of the North, The National Museum of the American Indian, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. As an Alaska Native artist and advocate, she has served on the Alaska Native Arts Foundation Board, Alaska State Council on the Arts Visual Arts Advisory, and the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Arts Board. 


More from this Artist

More from this Exhibition

GAZ COFFEE build #1

The Artist’s Uniform

Ice Cream Station Zebra and Other Works


Instability, Scattering, Wandering, Success

I come from a holy place

Under the table


Give artists the time, space and resources to create remarkable works of art that help us see our world in new ways.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram