Smack Mellon is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions, Bonnie Collura: Prince and Rachelle Mozman Solano: Metamorphosis of Failure, opening concurrently on January 12, 2019. Both artists create installations that challenge male-dominated narratives, portraying their male subjects from their positions of creative prowess. Bonnie Collura constructs several versions of a male surrogate out of disparate materials, flipping the gender roles of artist/creator and model/muse. Rachelle Mozman Solano takes on iconic artist Paul Gauguin by casting him as a self-doubting disappointment in his own biographical story, seeking affirmation from the ambivalent women who he aims to dominate. By putting forth alternative narratives, Collura and Mozman Solano envision women as empowered protagonists of their own storylines.
In her highly intensive studio practice, Bonnie Collura sees herself as part director, part fabricator, and part weird scientist. She slides between these roles, working from a medley of signifiers, physical material, and cultural references while questioning presumed hierarchies from art history, pop culture, politics, and consumerism. Bonnie Collura’s sculptural installation Prince is part of an ambitious, episodic project that started in 2005 with funding from a Guggenheim Fellowship. Since then, The Prince Project has taken the form of single sculptures and large-scale installations that critique our culture’s pattern of repeating iconic characters, gestures, and polarizing traits to create heroes. Inspired by mythological characters and symbols from classical antiquity to Mary Shelley’s 19th-century novel Frankenstein, Collura gives these stories contemporary relevance by subverting the restrictive gender roles of the artist/creator legend. As a sculptor, she works with carved and cast pieces that are fitted or sewn together, combining disparate parts to make a formal and conceptual whole that is evolving yet cohesive.
In her ongoing project, Collura creates incarnations of a surrogate being, which she calls the Prince figure and has developed through a non-linear narrative. As the artist of this sculptural personification, Collura takes the role of creator, flipping the gender relationship of the Pygmalion and Galatea myth from Ovid’s Metamorphosis in which a male sculptor desires an ideal female that he has made as an ivory statue. Collura interprets the Prince as an amalgamation of four archetypal male characters from history, religion, and popular culture: Jesus, St. Sebastian, C-3PO (the droid from Star Wars), and Abraham Lincoln. A unifying thread among these four figures is that each was left with an identifiable hole in his body, an opening that is associated with their martyrdom and reveals their fragility. At Smack Mellon, four solid, mixed-media sculptures represent each of these individuals as they gesture in response to four translucent counterparts that are made of sewn, silk organza and suspend from the ceiling like gossamer sheaths. By building both their bodies and shedding skins through sewing, the artist aims to rebuke tropes of the heroic male sculptor, as well as constructs that create patriarchal icons. Attempting to transcend her own personal impetus, Collura intends the work to evoke feelings of our collective hope, heartbreak, and history.
Collura lives and works in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. She has had solo exhibitions at Kustera Projects, Brooklyn; ‘sindikit, Baltimore; Kravets Wehby Gallery, New York; Claire Oliver Fine Arts, New York; and Susan Inglett Gallery, New York. Collura has been featured in recent group exhibitions at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT; Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Eugene, OR; Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn; Flag Art Foundation, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Mixed Greens Gallery, New York; and Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA, among others. She is the recipient of a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and an Emerging Artist Award from the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Collura is currently an Associate Professor at Penn State University, teaching in the School of Visual Arts. She received an MFA from Yale University and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.
The artist would like to thank the following for their support of this project: Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State School of Visual Arts, Katie Pack, Danielle Spewak, Amirmasoud Agharebparast, Christina Dietz, Geri Collura, Denis Collura, and a very special thanks to Matthew J. Olson.