Cultural Quarterly
Winter 2009
Volume XXII, Number 1
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Lou Anne Colodny’s
Transformative Work

By Rachel Galvin

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Lola 28
Lola 28, from the new deal series, black and white video still
on  glossy paper, 11” x 16”, 2008

When the world explodes or implodes, or however it may destroy itself, what comes next? This is a question brilliantly explored by artist Lou Anne Colodny, who takes everyday objects and turns them on their head creating a new point of view, ultimately changing it into something new.

Through her art, she is in essence the creator of her own unique universe and invites us into its unfolding. Colodny employs chaos and chance in everything she does, randomizing some of her computerized modifications. From transforming home videos into alien landscapes with mirrored imagery and strange sounds to creating a new being from segmented appendages, her artwork allows the viewer plenty of room for interpretation, something she relies on. This artist prefers to allow her audience to come to their own ideas of the meaning of her pieces.

Her video works, 442 and 2042, were both displayed boldly on wide monitors at the 13.08 exhibit in the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale, Nova Southeastern University (above the rest of the works by winners of the 2008 South Florida Cultural Consortium Fellowship for Visual and Media Artists).  In both cases, she uses her own hands (in 442) and feet (in 2042) - digitally mirrored in a blank liquid-like background - as her seeds to the beyond.

Melting into watery nothingness and sprouting, as if it were a new being (fingers and toes become nodules, new appendages or alien bodies), her creation explores an unknown landscape. The parts crash against each other - sometimes harmonically, other times chaotically and forcefully - as if symbolic of our own society, sometimes being symbiotic and united, other times turning angrily upon itself, becoming a monster enraged. “It’s all about morphing … societies after the big bang. I am looking to the future … hands flapping together become another entity with moments of anger, fear and moments of extreme sensitivity,” said Colodny.

Pose 1

pose 1,video still from 4042, 2008

This theme of destruction, transformation and creation are seen throughout her body of work from some of her first projects, where she took apart dolls and put them back together again with metal add-ons, making them mechanical and machine-like, even futuristic.

Some of her newest drawings show moments of terror such as September 11 and Hurricane Katrina, utilizing the muscular bodies of dancers or Greek gods as models for her figures. She plays with showing emotion and movement within the canvas.

In another artwork, an animation, she tells a tale based on a Greek myth about the duality of man - of a rolling blue ball with hands and feet that, upon angering the gods, splits into two: man and woman. “It makes sense,” she said, “one always feels like [he or she] is searching for something … the other half.” Her animation is raw, segmented on purpose. “I didn’t want it to look slick.” Each frame is shown individually, allowing the viewer to see the unfolding process.

In her “Mindful” series, she employs disconnected figures, piecing them together on a black background. A photo is manipulated, light is transformed and a new scene becomes visible as if it was there the whole time, just invisible to the naked eye. She allows us to see something below the surface. The mood is both eerie and angelic with light radiating almost ethereally from both the window and from the body’s aura itself. “I took a series of photographs … the actual curtain was white and I reddened it. I created flowing material on the mattress and put a floating figure in the window. I love the light effects,” she explained. The result of her seamless collage is a surrealistic and intriguing masterpiece.

Colodny also has become interested in the ways in which people try to transform their physical form, peeling back the years and diving into the fountain of youth. In a unique exhibit, she created a faux product line guaranteed to turn back time. Called Saturation, it was really green paint in various sizes of jars with sleek product packaging. Colodny even created different characters and filmed herself giving testimonials about the beauty product. In another video, she frantically placed it all over her face in green avocado globs. This multi-tasker even created a back story with a pamphlet that told the supposed long history of the miracle product.

Despite the over-the-top quality of the exhibit and the fact that it was advertised as an art exhibit, several people came up to her after viewing the display to ask how they could purchase the product. That response in and of itself shows the extent to which the importance of youth and beauty has “saturated” our society.

14, video still from 442, 2008

Besides saying something about our culture, all of her themes reflect her own life: an ongoing series of changes, not only of personality, but of careers. Her long line of selves has included being the founding director of the art museum CoCA (the Center of Contemporary Art in North Miami, which later transformed into MoCA – the Museum of Contemporary Art), being a teacher, doing publicity and being a dancer. In the present moment, she is engrossed in being an artist. “My life has morphed into so many different things. I have always been fascinated with how change affects people,” Colodny said.

Self-taught, this creative explorer, born in Denver and raised in Joplin, Mississippi, emerged among a creative family; her father played piano and horn and did photography, while her brother loved to make Super 8 home movies. She later moved to the Sunshine State, living in Jacksonville and attending the University of Florida before moving to South Florida.

Today, she spends time daily creating art, mostly in her studio in North Miami. She is just about to delve into her next phase of artistic creation after an eight-month break to help her daughter, Yvonne, with her political campaign … after removing a few campaign posters. (Yvonne won her election for circuit court judge.)

Colodny’s road to winning one of the South Florida Cultural Consortium’s $15,000 fellowship was a long one. She had submitted her work to the competition for about 10 years before being selected as a winner. Saying she was excited about this accomplishment would be an understatement. “I had just broken my arm and was upset about that; I had been napping when Mary Becht, Broward Cultural Division director,  called and told me I had won and I started screaming,” she said. “It is a real validation…” She said she will use the funds to update her computer equipment and to move into HD technology. “It really is an emotional and financial boost.”

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