Colette Robbins received her BFA from The Maryland Institute College of the Arts (MICA) and her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design. She has held residencies at Austevollportalen (Marstein Island, Norway), Cill Rialaig Project (Ireland), and The Vermont Studio Center. Her work has been shown at 101/Exhibit (Los Angeles), P.P.O.W. Gallery (New York City), Deitch Projects (New York City), The Hole Gallery (New York City), Koki Fine Arts (Tokyo), and Workshop Gallery (Venice, Italy), among others. Robbins work has been reviewed in The New Yorker Magazine, Artillery Magazine, LA Weekly, and Beautiful Decay, amongst others. She lives and works in New York City.
The human brain has remained anatomically unchanged for the last 40,000 years. This is not to say that humanity has remained stagnant in its neural evolution, but rather that our neural plasticity allowed for things like language and art to develop by utilizing areas of the brain that evolved for pattern and color recognition. These abilities were key to our early survival as we were able to quickly categorize visual stimuli as a threat or a resource. My work engages this instinct to detect patterns by using symmetrical forms that activate the fusiform gyrus, the part of the brain that recognizes faces and animal forms. The symmetrical forms are derived from inkblots and are stacked into totemic sculptures modeled to look like ancient stone artifacts. My pseudo-relics imply a collective past while encouraging the creation of meaning by the viewer. These meanings, drawn from our brain’s impulse to recognize patterns, reveals the process by which beliefs are formed. The work questions how our beliefs shape our perceptions and prompt our behaviors. To further engage viewers’ imagination, I incorporate sculptural elements from our common history by gathering open-source 3D scans of prehistoric art, fossils, classical busts, and geological textures. Using 3D-modeling software, I digitally disassemble and intuitively recombine and sculpt these found elements into the totems, using the found textures to bring them together into a cohesive whole. This digital free-form process uses manual techniques like sketching and sculpting with clay, making the file appear tactile and organic. I produce 3D-printed parts from these digital files and further manipulate them through melting and sanding. By fusing iconic figurations and relics, I make a collective past malleable through digital technologies.