Colleen Merrill’s work examines the simultaneous personal and social history of textiles. Her adorned, embellished, and sometimes garish composite forms scrutinize the beauty and tension of our most interdependent relationships. The Caliker series refers to vernacular unique to Kentucky, derived from the 1907 book, Aunt Jane of Kentucky by: Eliza Calvert. Caliker was a term used in the book to imply textiles that evoke memory and philosophy. The Bared-Fawn series refers to the double meaning of Fawn and Faun; one who is still un-weaned or retaining a distinctive baby coat and, the composite mythological creature. Bared-Fawn considers notions and perceptions of maternity. Her most current work, Tending Edges, widens that scrutiny by examining how our intimacies become entangled amongst larger social domains. The forms are designed for domestic space that has been repurposed for public use, creating a figurative conversation that exists within the gray area of public and private.
Colleen Merrill obtained her MFA from the University of Kentucky and BFA from the University of Cincinnati. Select exhibitions of her work have been held at Compare Collective in Brooklyn, New York, Living Arts & Sciences Center and Institute 193 in Lexington, Kentucky, Zephyr Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky, Arc Gallery in San Francisco, California, The Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Pennsylvania, and the International Textile Biennial in Haact, Belgium. Merrill has received grants from the Kentucky Federation for Women and the Great Meadows Foundation, who funded her as artist-in-resident at Residency Unlimited in Brooklyn, New York. She has been awarded fellowships for attending the Byrdcliffe Artist Residency in New York, and the Pentaculum Textiles Residency at the Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Tennessee. Her work has been published in the Australian book, The Handmade Life by Ramona Barry and Rebecca Jobson, in Pint an international publication by Milked Magazine, and in Textiel Plus Magazine, printed in the Netherlands. Merrill is an Associate Professor of Art at Bluegrass Community & Technical College and part-time Instructor in Fiber & Material Studies at the University of Kentucky.
Jul 04, 2019
Residency Unlimited’s latest group art show is opening July 8th at the Realty Collective gallery, 351 Van Brunt, and we will be spotlighting the artists. First up is Colleen Merrill. Read her interview below.
What do you plan to do next?
I plan to continue fostering the professional relationships that I developed during my time as a resident in an ongoing effort to bring other southern artist’s work to the forefront of contemporary art.
Does your work comment on current social or political issues? and if so how?
My work conjures the simultaneously personal and social through the examination of the body, maternity, and intimacy. The sculptural forms to be included in the exhibition at Compare Collective indirectly address how these notions relate to the current assault on women’s reproductive health rights currently happening in my home state of Kentucky.
What is your favorite experience or exhibits that you encountered during your time in NYC?
I have really enjoyed visiting various institutions such as the Museum of Art & Design, The American Folk Art Museum and Cooper Hewitt. The exhibitions at these spaces have offered an incredible amount of insight into my current research that is rooted in material and craft-based practice.
How has your work developed since your last exhibit?
Most recently my work has transitioned from being mostly object-based to installation. My ultimate goal is that my sculptural forms become more interconnected within their environment both formally and conceptually.
What brings you joy as an artist?
Time for inquiry, processing that inquiry through practice, and the engagement that prevails.