Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jodi Colella

In the Beginning

    “My work references the biological world, uses found and manufactured materials, and incorporates a methodical and meditative work practice.
I create structures that can act as metaphors for being human often taking on anthropomorphic gestures and emotions. I want to inspire questions about where an individual ends and the world begins.
     Found fishing ropes morph into nerve capillaries, tubes of screen congregate
into honeycomb, and wool grows from the crevices of driftwood - as if creating new species. It is my goal to engage - to create a physical attraction that beckons
one to want to touch and BE touched by what they see.”

                                                  Jodi Colella


     Jodi Colella is a mixed media sculptor and teacher who explore the character of the materials while creating abstractions of natural forms and transforming ordinary materials into the unexpected. Her nimble mind and nimble fingers have produced an array of compelling sculptures. She uses traditional crafting techniques such as crochet, knitting, felting and embroidery to create structures that are anything but traditional. The needle felted and found driftwood sculptures pictured here mimic organic patterns found in science.

Diana                                         Colony

     The artist, who has a degree in Biology from Boston University was originally a researcher at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, but did not feel the career was the right fit for her. She got a certificate in Graphic Design in 2000, and worked in the field for a while before she gave that up to pursue her own art. Colella describes herself as an intuitive artist, and trusts that intuition implicitly.

Receptor                                            Nuclei I

     Humans are tactile beings. Our fingers seem to be drawn to materials, be they smooth as silk or rough as bark. Jodi Colella's fingers have a restless curiosity, not content to let the transformative potential of materials they touch lie dormant. A Somerville-based fiber artist who's as fascinated by her process as she is by its outcome, Colella sees the bizarre and enticing capabilities of the substances she works with. "I'm very curious about materials," she says. "Just playing with them to find their qualities. Usually they do unexpected things."


     Her inquisitiveness comes in part from a love of nature's building blocks. "Aesthetically, I have always loved cellular forms. In fact, if you look at my notebooks from back then," she laughs, referring to her days studying biology at BU, "I didn't write too much information, but I had all the images." Seeds and Nucleus are recent works of Colella's that evokes biological forms but are rooted in textile traditions too. She experimented with needle felting (a method of transforming wool fleece into felt), creating dysmorphic orbs of burred fuzziness and vivid layers of color. The process signified concentrated potential, each needle prick a compacting of Colella's own energy into the "seed."

Epithelia                                             Lichen 

     Colella first encountered traditional textile methods like felting and knitting during summers at her grandparents' home on Cape Cod. "I was brought up always working with my hands," notes the former graphic designer, "and I've always loved doing that. So I think that's where I start, and then hopefully it goes somewhere else." While fleece is a conventional material, Colella's fingers often reach for things that stretch the definition of fiber, such as window screen that she's used to make Undercurrent, a work about barriers and duplicity.


     Like many artists in our creative environs she wears many hats. She teaches at the deCordova museum in Lincoln, Mass, working with students with fiber art and sculptural jewelery. As a teacher, she helps students develop their art, from fiber to sculptural jewelery. Patience, she says, is the key. "It's very difficult to be in the position of trying to figure something out but you can't. And to have somebody show you, or indicate a way that you can figure it out yourself that makes you feel good is really important. There's just a level of fulfillment there in people sharing with you, you sharing with people." It's easy to imagine a student of Colella's catching her fervour for experimenting with materials. "Very often," she says, eyes twinkling, "you get these surprises that are nothing you would ever dream of. That's what I love about it."

Marrow                                                  Blast

     Jodi Colella shapes constructions that mimic the patterns of science while observing the inherent character of materials, transforming them from the ordinary to the unexpected. The results are both beautiful and full of contradictions, monumental and delicate, organic and man made. Jodi's work has exhibited nationally in museums and galleries winning several awards including from The Textile Center Minneapolis, New Fibers 2010 and will be included in "GREEN: a Color and a Cause" at The Textile Museum in Washington D.C.

What Looks Like an Elephant                    /detail/

Nuclei III

Mushroomed                                              /detail/

Jodi Colella