Jodi Colella

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My practice includes both solo work and participatory exchanges with community to create sculptures and installations that explore human relationship, our capacity for loneliness and our need to belong.

Using a needle as my primary tool, I transform found objects and inventive materials into dimensional expressions. In my public artworks the essential conceptual element is community collaboration. I’m influenced by my travels and draw from historical and cultural experiences around me.

In 2014 I was in residence at Da Wang Culture Highland, a small mountain village just outside of Shenzhen China. I arrived without supplies and a cursory knowledge of the culture but quickly learned through observation how to navigate buses, exchange money for goods, find my way and other essential skills that one takes for granted within their familiar environs. It is invigorating to feel upside down, where every action needs to be reconsidered and simple interactions can’t be taken for granted. If in Thailand at ComPeung, I look forward to once again being lost from my familiar space to one that requires me to explore, think, learn, share and connect.

The phrase ‘not foreign’ is defined in the Thesaurus as ‘handmade’, ‘handcrafted’, and ‘native’. As a foreigner, needleworker and a collaborator, I hope to connect to local craftspeople and youth to nurture small circles of making, information exchange and to play with the tension between belonging and feeling other. To explore the local area and to interact with other makers about their technique, process and materials and to journal, document and collect items that I will bring back to initiate an installation and interactive activity in my home community.

In parallel to the collaborative work I plan to create one or more small sculptures. While at Da Wang I investigated embroidery plus traditional and contemporary folklore to create a sculpture out of materials I could access in my local environment. Women’s shirts from the market, threads found in a refuse heap of a local factory, an empty rice bag as a foundation and rice as stuffing were collected and transformed into a sculpture named ANT, who I refer to as a power figure, a beast, or most recently, as a ‘familiar’ – an abstracted animal that possesses human traits we all can relate to. At ComPeung I plan to make one or more of these ‘familiars’ gleaning from the resources, materials and experiences that present themselves to me while living there.

ComPeung is the perfect setting for an artist to explore the nature and rich culture of Northern Thailand. The privacy, quiet, small community and rural aspect combine to create an ideal setting for reflection on my purpose as an artist, a maker, a person.

Jodi’s review on her experienced at ComPeung can be found here.

Jodi Colella works with a broad range of materials to create provocative, tactile works that often include public participation. She has exhibited at Danforth Art Museum, Fruitlands Museum, Wheaton College, Helen Day Art Center, Museums of York, World of Threads Toronto Canada and Textile Museum Washington D.C., among others. Her awards include 2015 Artist Residency at Weir Farm Historic National Park in CT, 2014 Artist Residency at Da Wang Culture Highland in Shenzhen China, 2013 Artist-in-Residence Fruitlands Museum, Pollack-Krasner Fellowship Vermont Studio Center, and Somerville Arts Council Fellowships 2015, 2012. She has been featured in Huffpost Art & Culture, Artscope, The Boston Globe, 3D Textile Arts, Exploring Fiber, Harvard Crimson, 500 Felt Objects and BU Arts & Science Magazine. She is a member of New England Sculpture Association, The American Craft Council, and International Sculpture Center. Jodi has taught nationally at Society for Craft in Pittsburgh, SDA’s Confluence in Minneapolis plus many local venues. She lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts USA and most days can be found lost in her studio.