Lewis Colburn: two hundred forty-one years

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Kaplan Gallery


June 16 – July 16, 2017

Kaplan Gallery

Opening Reception and Artist Talk: Friday, June 16, 7 – 9 PM


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-tell 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.

Objects such as these are the jumping-off points for my projects. In particular, I am interested in the approximations and shortcuts that we make in the interest of re-creating a given historical experience. Take, for example, a period interpreter on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, clad in an 18th-century frock coat sewn from flimsy polyester. Making my own meticulous replicas of historical objects generates its own little slippages and elisions, whether or not my objects can ‘pass’ as authentic. These slippages connect us to larger ideas about how we write and re-tell history, questioning the narratives we choose to emphasize and those we neglect.

About the artist: Born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Lewis Colburn received degrees in studio art and Russian language from St. Olaf College, and an MFA in sculpture from Syracuse University. Colburn’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, at venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, the School 33 Art Center in Baltimore, and the historic Glen Foerd mansion in Philadelphia. Colburn is also a member of NAPOLEON, an artist-run project space in Philadelphia’s Rollins Building.


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