Today we’d like to introduce you to Jodi Colella.
Jodi, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I became a sculptor through a very circuitous route. With a degree in Biology, I started out as a research tech in a lab. I quickly assessed my wayward path and enrolled in a graphic design certificate program at an art school that was located across the street from the medical center where I was working (Mass College of Art and Design). From there I launched into a 20 year design career, and was the principal owner of my own business for 16 of those.
From very early in my life I was creating with craft. I knit at 5, painted found objects from my urban neighborhood at 10, illustrated children’s books at 14 etc. We didn’t have money for supplies so I would use what I could find in my environment including items like crushed soda cans, tree branches and a bag of scrap fabric from my quiltmaker grandmother. This was such a natural part of my identity it didn’t seem like anything exceptional until I resigned from graphic design and dedicated myself to a full time art practice. I studied with various instructors in painting and printmaking before acknowledging that my most natural medium is fiber and sculpture, and I’ve been working with that ever since.
My background experiences play a very relevant role in my artmaking. The science influences my curiosity about organisms and the philosophy of living systems. The design supports my sense of composition, texture and color. Both feed my interest in the innovation of materials and process. Also, engaging in fiber arts is a gateway to community where I teach and collaborate with many other talented makers.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I use soft materials and found objects to create provocative, tactile objects and installations about human relationship.
I redefine needle art techniques and transform the everyday into works of contemporary relevance. There is a presence of the maker in the shape of thousands of stitches, hand-wrought forms and, as in my collaboratives, the orchestrated actions of many.
I’m influenced by my travels, and draw from historical and cultural experiences around me that extend from my neighborhood to time spent in the Far East.
The exhibit Unidentified Woman engages with the collections at Historic Northampton and the forces that have shaped women’s identities since the 18th century by fusing personal experiences and ideologies into sculptures that contribute to the progress of both art and feminism.
Impressions from a residency in Shenzhen China, where citizens are experiencing radical social changes, resulted in works about the universal and confusing contradictions of identity and place.
A fellowship in Thailand found me sharing a mud house with scorpions and more. They occupied my thoughts and affected my every move. It was curious that a being so small could wield such immense power. I processed this by stitching one with materials found at local markets. Once home, it expanded beyond the personal with the creation of a larger than life Stinger out of found doilies that suggest a history of needlework and domesticity, while querying the social structures embodied in objects, and investigating the complex, often entangled qualities of power, emergence, and fear.
Balancing tradition and innovation with a weaver’s sensitivity, I use needlework to infuse renewed power and gravitas to craft traditions often dismissed as feminine. Found objects-the everyday and invisible-are reworked and repurposed, and placed on a pedestal for scrutiny. The psychological is made physical in the way that one form materializes form another.
What do you know now that you wished you had learned earlier?
Trust your instincts.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I’m currently showing at Boston Sculptors Gallery. My inaugural exhibit, LOOM LARGE, features sculptures and drawings that query the social structures embodied in objects, and investigate the complex, often entangle qualities of power, emergence, and fear.
I live and work in Somerville. I’m a part of Miller Street Studios and member of Boston Sculptors Gallery. I welcome studio visits and you can find my work online at www.jodicolella.com and at Form + Concept Gallery in Santa Fe NM and Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tuscon AZ.
- Address: 11 Miller Street
Somerville, MA 02143
- Website: www.jodicolella.com
- Phone: 781-724-8606
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jicolella/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodicolellaartist/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/textillian
- Other: www.jodicolella.blogspot.com
Photography of art: Will Howcroft
My portrait photo: Wayne Colella
Essay excerpts in my statement: Lisa Crossman, Curator, Fitchburg Art Museum