Organized by Alexander Campos
Collins’ Featured Artist Project is centered around America: A Hymnal, an artist book made up of 100 versions of My Country ‘Tis of Thee from the 18th-20th c. Since its debut by the Rev. Samuel E. Smith on July 4, 1831, the lyrics of My Country ’Tis of Thee were re-titled and re-written at least one hundred times. Each re-writing in support of a passionately held cause—from temperance and suffrage to abolition and even the Confederacy—articulates a version of what it means to be American. In its many lyrical variations, America: A Hymnal is a chronological retelling of American history, politics and culture through one song. Additional works included in Collins’ Featured Artist Project are from her Contronym series, altered dictionaries and encyclopedias, each refusing in its own way a singularity of meaning.
I am interested in the unnerving possibility of multiple meanings, dual perceptions, and limitlessness in the seemingly binary. Drawing repeatedly allows me to fully understand objects in space, while defining and redefining my own racial landscape.
For me, racial identity has neither been instantly formed nor conjured in isolation. Rather, identity entangles memory: actual and revisited, cultural and historical, individual and collective. Through the dissolution of dichotomies and exploration of language, this work recalls moments in the formation of my racial identity. And each re-worked mark is yet another attempt to navigate the binary paradigm of race in the American South.
Each new body of work borders on an obsessive preoccupation with language- it’s ability and inability to negotiate a way of being in the world.
But I have found in my practice a delight in these obsessive preoccupations. And in the solutions they slowly, ever so slowly, but inevitably offer.