Granary Arts Maddison Colvin Collect Compress

MADDISON COLVIN / Collect / Compress

September 25, 2015 - January 29, 2016


There is a human desire to see things in terms of system and structure. In the natural world, this desire is to make three-dimensional organisms readable, conveyable, archivable- in other words, for the thing to become a document and for the organizing power of ordered thought to make that document readable. There is, therefore, both a mental and a visual divide between the overwhelming complexity of organisms and the documents which seek to encompass them.


Header image: V01 (Nightcrawlers) (detail), Maddison Colvin

In this work, a sheet of glass functions as the representation of this dividing force, compressing forms into two dimension. Pressed by gravity against this surface, insects overwhelm the picture plane. In the plant photographs, the glass takes on a more active, destructive role, shifting and flattening dense groups of plant life, making their forms increasingly two-dimensional.

Rather than answering the question of accurate representation, this work is interested in the action of flattening; the urge to collect and compress in order to communicate- and ultimately, the failure or impossibility of that action. The plants become distorted, the insects can only be seen from below. The document cannot succeed. It either overwhelms or is overwhelmed.


About the Artist

Maddison Colvin was born in Nuremberg, Germany shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She has lived in many places since then, but currently lives and works in Eugene, OR. She graduated in 2013 from Brigham Young University with her MFA in studio art and has subsequently been an artist in residence at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, an adjunct professor teaching drawing, painting, and design at BYU, and a middle school art teacher. She has many different bodies of work, all of which can be found at