Modern collage, invented by George Braque, Pablo Picasso and others in the early 20th century, lives on today in the exhibition “Embodied” by Robin Colodzin at the famous Copley Society of Art in Boston. Founded in 1879, the Copley Society has long been the bastion of painting in the romantic realism tradition, and many of its artist-founders are honored as America’s great painters. In an effort to be more contemporary, the Copley selection committee is now including experimental artists who deal in the latest, hottest social problems and that is to be commended.
However, deciding which experimental artists will be the next “great artists” is a tricky question and the solo exhibition of Colodzin makes the case that emerging artists can be both brilliant and also falter in their visions. Her artistic conceptual goal, expressed in her press release, is in line with women’s body imagery and acceptance issues, frequently discussed in every conceivable media/digital social space. She states, “Our bodies are exquisitely imperfect conduits to pleasure, pain, and connection. Our breath tells us we are alive, even as our limitations remind us of our mortality collectively. We as human beings all share our singular experience of living in this human vessel, the body.”
She attempts to put this narrative into a visual form by using photos, texts, newspapers and paint. Colodzin archives her goal when she uses a mixed combination of overlaid paper materials and liquid paints, and glues in the collage medium.
“Inside that Body,” 12” x 12”, a typical collage by Colodzin, is densely packed with layer upon layer of materials including newspaper, photographs, medical diagrams and skeins of white paint. Dotted lines of white and blue veins of paint unite the imagery. The complexity of the physical materials adds to its intriguing story. Photos of a small child and a severed foot, and the diagram of a spinal cord all hint at the human body.