Jodi Colella, of Somerville, is an artist, teacher and community builder. She uses needlework to infuse renewed power to craft practices. The resulting works convey both whimsy and threat, as they capture that place where anxiety and beauty can co-mingle. She pushes the boundaries of traditional techniques to create works that imply an inner vitality and a self-awareness of what it means to be human.
Using needle arts, soft materials and found objects as tools, Jodi’s body of work includes sculptural objects, mixed media embroidery, and interactive installations. She tackles universal themes and societal issues to create compelling imagery in a way in which people can relate and react.
“I’m inspired by the ability of fiber and handwork to build communities and increase awareness of social/political issues,” explains Jodi. “Whether it is reworking historical narratives to suit contemporary themes, or collaborations that transform communities – my goal is to make connections and foster change.”
There is an opportunity this September to see some of Jodi’s recent work at three different museum exhibitions happening in Massachusetts.
HUMAN IMPACT: STORIES OF THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC
Fuller Craft Museum
September 28, 2019 – May 3, 2020
Chief Curator Beth Conrad McLaughlin is bringing together artists working in craft-based media with families who have been impacted by the crisis at the Fuller Museum’s HUMAN IMPACT: STORIES OF THE OPIOD EPIDEMIC. This thoughtful and topical show features eleven artists, including Jodi, who were chosen to meet with families and create new works inspired by conversations and their stories.
Jodi’s Once Was (Remembrance) is inspired by a single mom whose son overdosed on heroin/fentanyl. The piece is a memorial for him and all those lost tragically to an opioid related death in the prime of their lives. It is a two-sided, 12-foot wall of 3600 remembrance poppies with each poppy representing 200 individuals who have died due to opioid related complications. It consists of plush black velvet blanketed with poppies made from clothes donated by people Jodi encountered while working on the project. The resulting array of patterns, colors, styles and materials represents all people no matter their age, gender, relation, ethnicity, etc. The poppy centers are empty and stitched open with bright red to represent individuals. The void in the center reveals the black velvet that is funerary, adding gravity and personifying the loss.
LOOK THIS WAY
Cahoon Museum of American Art
On Display Now – October 30, 2019
LOOK THIS WAY is an exhibition that presents the provocative new work of three mid-career women artists.
Curated by Annie Dean, the show offers an intriguing counterpoint to the daguerreotypes (the first successful method of photography) currently on view at the Cahoon in Through The Looking Glass: Daguerreotype Masterworks from the Dawn of Photograph.
The artists “hope to challenge the viewer to stop, look deeper, linger longer and to consider what their artwork truly reveals. Even as people and moments are recorded by the camera, things are not always what they seem. Even though we possess family photographs we hold dear, memory is fleeting and transient. Even when we think a photograph tells us the truth, there is so much that is never recorded.”
Jodi is fascinated by early photography and collects antique tintype portraits which she manipulates to create evocative artworks with dark humor and imagery. Her new series, Ghost Stories, is inspired by the uneasy postures and expressions evident in daguerreotype portraits, whose subjects were required to sit without moving for many minutes before their image could be captured. The exhibit also features artists Jackie Reeves and Kimberly Sheerin.
Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University
On Display Now – December 30, 2019
The newly re-opened Danforth Museum is presenting DRESSED. To be dressed is to cover, adorn, or envelop the body in the guise we present to the outside world. Broadly addressing materials, imagery, iconography, and memory, each artist experiments with the fluidity of form while acknowledging gendered constrictions placed on the body. Jodi is one of six contemporary artists working in a range of media whose works reference the intricacies of covering the body, the meaning held in garments, and the gendering of handwork. Curated by Jessica Roscio, other artists include Catherine Bertulli, Merill Comeau, Mia Cross, Nancy Grace Horton and Marky Kauffmann.
Call Me Rose, one of Jodi’s works in this exhibit, is an elaborate composition both in size and embellishment. The petals are created from clothing, dyed red to unify the varying patterns of plaid, herringbone, tweed, camouflage – identifying materials of being dressed. It is an object of beauty with dark undertones that requires several glances to take it in. The effect is ambiguous, at first glance feeling feminine, at second glance masculine, at third glance something else, (or maybe the reverse order!).
Jodi Colella exhibits and teaches internationally. She a recipient of a 2019 Massachusetts Council Fellowship Award for Sculpture/Installation/New Genres and is a member of the Boston Sculptors Gallery.