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Lewis Colburn smiling in his studio
Lewis Colburn
Associate Professor, Sculpture Area Coordinator

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Lewis Colburn is an artist and educator based in Philadelphia, working primarily in sculpture and installation. His works blend digital and manual methods of making to create meticulous replicas of historical objects and artifacts.

Colburn’s work has been shown internationally and 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 Torrance Art Museum in Los Angeles, Locust Projects in Miami, Florida, South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China, and the Taoyuan Museum of Fine Arts in Taiwan.

Colburn has participated in numerous artist-in-residence programs including Franconia Sculpture Park, the Vermont Studio Center, SculptureSpace, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, R.A.I.R. in Philadelphia, and D’Clinic Studios in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary.

He holds a BA in studio art and Russian language from St. Olaf College, and an MFA in sculpture from Syracuse University. His works have been featured in Sculpture magazine, as well as the Philadelphia Inquirer. He teaches sculpture and three-dimensional design at Drexel University, where he is an associate professor.
MFA Sculpture, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
BA Studio Art, Russian Language, St Olaf College, Northfield, MN
Selected Artist Lectures, Workshops, and Panel Discussions

2020
Virtual Artist Studio Tour, Venture Café/Esther Klein Gallery, Philadelphia PA
Re-Visioning Monuments, virtual artist talk and panel discussion, The Gallery at Penn State Abington, Abington, PA

2019
Visiting Artist Lecture, The University of the Arts Summer MFA Program, Philadelphia, PA
Visiting Artist Lecture, Penn State Abington, Abington, PA

2018
The Persistence of History, panel discussion for exhibition at New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ
June Artist Talks, Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN
Westphal Research and Creative Work Showcase, Drexel University
Out of the Studio (Into the Process), panel discussion for Where the Artists Are, Drexel University

2017
Visiting Artist Lecture, South China Normal University College of Fine Arts, Guangzhou, China

2016
Panelist, What’s Past as Prologue: The Influence of History on Contemporary Practice, International Sculpture Conference, Pittsburgh, PA

2015
Scanning the Sanctuary: Public workshop on 3D scanning, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA.

2012
Artist lecture, School of Design, Montgomery College, Rockville, MD

2011
Guest Critic, University of the Arts Sculpture Department, Philadelphia, PA

2010
Artist lecture, The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA

2009
Artist lecture, Flaten Memorial Lecture Series, St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

2006
Artist lecture, Herzen State Pedagogical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia

Selected Honors and Awards

2021
Honorable Mention, Taoyuan International Art Award, Taoyuan Museum of Fine Arts, Taoyuan City, Taiwan

2020
Westphal Faculty Mini Grant, Drexel University
Faculty Summer Research Award, Drexel University

2019
Westphal Faculty Mini Grant, Drexel University
(in collaboration with Associate Teaching Professor Mark Stockton)
Finalist, Kutztown Artist-in-Residence Program, Kutztown University

2018
Finalist, Golden Triangle BID Public Art Initiative, temporary public art project in Washington, DC (One of four finalists)
Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Award, Drexel University
Allen Rothwarf Award for Teaching Excellence, Drexel University

2017
Faculty Summer Research Award, Drexel University
Westphal Faculty Mini Grant, Drexel University

2016
Westphal Faculty Mini Grant, Drexel University

2011
Career Development Fellowship, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA

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 ways 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, or the stage set. In tandem with these physical re-creations, a tremendous quantity of artifacts have now been digitized and disseminated via 3D scanning. Scanning 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.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2021
A Fountain for a Dark Future, Project Room, Locust Projects, Miami, FL
(September 2021)

2019
The Best of All Possible Worlds, Penn State Abington Art Gallery, Abington, PA

2018
A Total Collapse, Intuitive Art Space, Philadelphia, PA

2017
A Broken Index, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China
two hundred forty-one years, VisArts, Rockville, MD
Early America, Haas Gallery, Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA (Juried)

2016
Fall Solos 2016, Arlington Arts Center, Arlington, VA (Juried)
Scenes for Empty Rooms, Glen Foerd Mansion, Philadelphia, PA
Early America, School 33 Art Center, Baltimore, MD

2015
Wind Challenge 1, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA (Juried)
Three Museum Objects, Göcseji Museum, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary

2014
On This Site, NAPOLEON, Philadelphia, PA

2013
The Noble Amateur, NAPOLEON, Philadelphia, PA

2012
The Practical Romantic, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA
The Factory and After, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA
After the Architect Has Gone, Public Space One, Iowa City, IA

2009
Interregnum (1815-1969), Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NY

2008
The X-Prize and the Heroic Theory of Invention, Redhouse Arts Center, Syracuse, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2021
Taoyuan International Art Award, Taoyuan Museum of Fine Arts, Taoyuan City, Taiwan
(Juried)

2020
Art in Place, via Terrain Exhibitions/CNL Projects, Philadelphia, PA/Chicago, IL

2019
Extra Parts, Good Children Gallery, New Orleans, LA
RULERS, Coco Hunday, Tampa, FL
Democratic Vistas: Whitman, Body and Soul, Stedman Gallery, Rutgers University, Camden, NJ
At the Same Time, Goggleworks Center for the Arts, Reading, PA

2018
The Persistence of History, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ
Locust 20/20, Locust Projects, Miami, FL (Juried)
Smoke and Mirrors, Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Where the Artists Are, Pearlstein Gallery, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

2017
The One You Know, NoBA Artspace, Bala Cynwyd, PA
Idle Hands: Further Adventures in Metaphysical Arbitrage: 100 Years of the Readymade, Pilot Projects, Philadelphia, PA (Juried)
Print Think 2017, Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

2016
Lost in Transit, SOIL Gallery, Seattle, WA
In/Dwelling: Meditations on Built Environments as Cultural Narrative, High Street Gallery, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ
Far More Real, Coop Gallery, Nashville, TN
Best of D’Clinic Studios 2015, Gönczi Gallery, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary

2015
Traction Company, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Woodmere Annual 2015, Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia, PA (Juried)
Other Selections, The Center for Art in Wood, Philadelphia, PA
Art in the Open at UCAL, University City Arts League, Philadelphia, PA

2014
Good Neighbors, Berman Museum of Art, Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA
Art in the Open 2014, Schuylkill Banks, Philadelphia, PA (Juried)
Manufacturing Fire, Little Berlin, Philadelphia, PA

2013
As First As Exactly, Traction Company, Philadelphia, PA

2012
Visions and Vignettes, ArtWorks, Trenton, NJ

2011
Have a Nice Day, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Pittsburgh, PA
HERE, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Construct, The Icebox at Crane Arts, Philadelphia, PA
This is the House You’ll Live In Tomorrow, The University of the Arts Sculpture Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (Two-person, with Stephanie Koenig)
Introduction 2011, Widener Gallery, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA

2010
Fugitive Encounters, The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, Philadelphia, PA

2009
The Other Side of the World, Skulpturenpark Berlin_Zentrum, Berlin, Germany

2008
International Prize for Performance, 4th Edition, Galleria Civica, Trento, Italy
Seriously, Funny, Lord Hall Gallery, University of Maine, Orono, ME

2005
Minnesota Biennial 2D II, Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN

Residencies

2018
Open Studio Fellowship, Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN
Recycled Artist-in-Residency (R.A.I.R.), Revolution Recovery, Philadelphia, PA

2016
SculptureSpace Residency Program, Utica, NY
Artist-in-Residence Program, Glen Foerd Estate, Philadelphia, PA

2015
Tractor Residency Program, D’Clinic Studios, Zalaegerszeg, Hungary

2009
Vermont Studio Center Residency, Johnson, VT (Full Fellowship)

2007
Wendover Residence Program, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Wendover, UT

Replicated crumpled pieces of Confederate monument mounted on pipes
Disposable Monument II (After The Boys Who Wore Gray), 2021
Polymer modified gypsum, graphite, aluminum, polypropylene and pine.
60” x 84” x 53”

The work is based on a damaged Confederate monument, which crumpled and bent when it was pulled down by protestors in Durham, North Carolina in 2017.

 

  Detail of Disposable Monument II with date August 15, 2017 on plaque

Disposable Monument II (After The Boys Who Wore Gray), 2021
Polymer modified gypsum, graphite, aluminum, polypropylene and pine.
60” x 84” x 53”

Detail.


Installation view of There are No Miracles Here (Laoco├Ân/Flamethrower)
There Are No Miracles Here (Laocoön/Flamethrower) 2020
Various woods, aluminum, brass, polymer modified gypsum and found objects.
96” x 70” x 60”

Installation View.

 

Detail of sculpture, featuring crumpled Budweiser cans, cast hand and gloves
There Are No Miracles Here (Laocoön/Flamethrower) 2020
Various woods, aluminum, brass, polymer modified gypsum and found objects.
96” x 70” x 60”

Detail.


Installation view of sculpture Dumb Heroic Gestures
Dumb Heroic Gestures, 2020.
Various woods, concrete, steel, Bondo, nylon, tarp, and found objects.
104” x 72” x 24.”

Installation view of sculpture The Best of All Possible Worlds 
The Best of All Possible Worlds, 2019.
Installation, dimensions variable, this configuration 12’ x 12’ x 8’
Aluminum, plywood, MDF, walnut, mahogany, brass, fiberglass-reinforced plaster, and salvaged pine.

The work consists of a full-scale replica of the Apollo Belvedere, combined with replicas of Marcel Duchamp’s Three Standard Stoppages, a portion of Walter De Maria’s Broken Kilometer, the 1899 International Prototype Standard Meter Bar, as well as numerous casts made from trash and detritus from a Philadelphia neighborhood.



Detail of aluminum network in sculpture The Best of All Possible Worlds
The Best of All Possible Worlds,
2019.
Installation, dimensions variable, this configuration 12’ x 12’ x 8’

Detail of aluminum network.



Detail of plaster casting of trash and detritus in sculpture The Best of All Possible Worlds
The Best of All Possible Worlds,
2019.
Installation, dimensions variable, this configuration 12’ x 12’ x 8’

Detail of plaster casting.