Tell us about the path you took to grow into the artist you are now. Were you making art from a very young age?
Yes, I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. My parents kept me in good supply of all sorts of materials and were very encouraging. Summers were spent on the beach with long hours to learn how to knit, embroider, draw, paint, etc. There was a herd of us kids and when taking a break from swimming we would sit on our blankets in a large circle and work on our projects together. Some of us were using pencils for knitting needles and all of us had plastic Wonder Bread bags as our totes. I intended to go to art school for college but a disruptive family move derailed me. I ended up at B.U. studying biology, another interest of mine. After graduation I worked as a research technician at Dana Farber and attended night classes at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design working towards a certificate in Graphic Design. After 16 years as principal of my own design firm, Colella Design, I turned full time to my fine art practice and have been obsessed ever since.
As a mixed-media sculptor, you work with many different materials besides wool fiber. How do your various interests inform one another? Where do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration can be mysterious. For me, something will spark an interest and I’ll pay attention to it without asking too many questions, working it out while not knowing where I’m going until I get there.
I am intrigued by traditional craft practice. The stories behind the making of objects throughout history reveal a society’s values and sense of place better than any historic text. After some experimentation I’ll use scale, metaphor, tactility and expression to create burgeoning organic shapes. Strong color, a sense of humor and a pinch of threat are combined to engage the viewer in surprising ways.
I’m also attracted to process and repetition with many of my sculptures being an accumulation of many smaller units. Some of this is my work ethic, but some of it is a method of being quiet and allowing my thoughts to rise to the surface.
At this time I’m experiencing a confluence of several aspects of my personal history where science, design, experimentation and community engagement are melding together into whatever it is I’m trying to create. I’m waiting to see where it takes me.
How does the Somerville arts community support you in your work?
The arts community in Somerville is generous, diverse, numerous and talented. There is a palpable buzz of activity on any day of the week with more things to do than any one person could ever attend. The Arts Council is incredibly accessible and ready with assistance for all kinds of proposals. Being a part of this community with other artists where we share knowledge and resources is pretty special and I’m so grateful to be here.
Do Skillshare participants need any prior experience in the fiber arts? Is the class open to children?
No experience is necessary; however, due to the very sharp needles, this activity is not recommended for children younger than 12.
You teach many local art classes on making even more cool things. Where else can Skillshare attendees find you?
My studio is at 11 Miller Street in Somerville, and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to answer any questions.
I am teaching the following classes this spring and hope to see some new faces! Visit my blog for more details:
Needlefelted Orbs, Five Crows Gallery: Saturday, March 1st, 10am—3pm
Sculptural Crochet, Eliot School, Jamaica Plain, MA: March 16th and 23rd, 10am—4pm
Fiber Jewelry, Five Crows Gallery: Wednesdays: April 2nd, 16th, 30th, 10am—1pm.
I’m also curating an exhibit at Nave Gallery Annex, March 12th—April 5th (it’s called “Practice” and has to do with my interest in process, proficiency and commitment in artmaking), and there is a story slam scheduled for March 31st as well.