Artist Statement

At best, objects make unreliable tour guides. They cannot argue with the narratives we imagine for them. As a maker of sculpture, I am interested in the way we re-interpret and re-create the past through the filter of our current experience. These re-tellings also manifest themselves as objects: the museum replica, the diorama, the stage set, or the laboriously hand-sewn and fussily detailed garments of a reenactor. In tandem with these physical re-creations, a tremendous quantity of artifacts are currently being digitized and disseminated via 3D scanning. This remains at best a lossy process, though, with the results existing as a kind of dizzying virtual ‘cast hall’, echoing the endless plaster copies made from classical statuary.

These objects and virtual simulacra are the jumping-off points for my projects. Working with these historical forms draws on the contemporary sense that the pace of both progress and retrograde political motion is wildly accelerating, in tandem with a profound de-stabilization of previously monolithic forms and ideas. I re-create the sculptural forms of the past to interrogate the conditions of the present, examining the ways these artifacts reinforce and shape narratives that persist today.

At right: Work underway on A Monument After the Bicentennial at SculptureSpace, summer 2016.

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Born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Lewis Colburn holds a BA in studio art and Russian language from St. Olaf College, and a MFA in sculpture from Syracuse University. Colburn’s artwork has been shown internationally and throughout the United States, at venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Locust Projects in Miami, FL, South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China, and the Torrance Art Museum in Los Angeles, CA.

Colburn has also participated in numerous artist-in-residence programs including the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Vermont Studio Center, SculptureSpace, Franconia Sculpture Park, and RAIR in Philadelphia.

Colburn is also a member of NAPOLEON, an artist-run project space in Philadelphia’s Rollins Building. His works have been featured in Sculpture magazine, as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is currently based in Philadelphia, and teaches sculpture at Drexel University, where he is an assistant professor.

At left: Faces for A Broken Index fresh from carving on the CNC router, summer 2017.