Meet the Artist: Collyn Ahren Mini Interview

Meet the Artist: Collyn Ahren Mini Interview

Tahoe/Incline based artist, Collyn Ahren, has had an awesome exhibit for mixed media installation pieces up in the Holland Project Gallery this month and Gallery Committee member, Denali Lowder, took a little time to ask her a few questions about her work. Check out the mini interview below then come out to the closing reception TONIGHT, Thursday, Sept. 21 from 6-8pm to see the work in person.

Denali Lowder: Will you tell me a little about yourself and your background?

Collyn Ahren: I recently graduated with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Sierra Nevada College. I am currently in a Post- Baccalaureate program at the University of Colorado focusing on ceramic sculpture. I will be returning to the Tahoe/Reno area again next September, 2018 to install a show at Sierra Nevada College. My interest is in making gallery installations to visualize the results of social research studies. I have a background in studying the medical field, and conceptualize my work using the scientific method: formulate a question, observe, experiment, and conclude results.This show includes work from a study on vulnerability. I asked volunteers to model in my modified denim clothing, and archived photographs. The denim clothing itself is a personal metaphor of loss in both physical material and emotional. 

The volunteers all surprised me in the interview after modeling, of feeling a sensation of freedom and liberation in the process.

The ceramic elements are my response to these social experiments.They make commentary on commitment as an artist toward your community and your beliefs. 


DL: What kind of things surprised you most, when exploring the subject of vulnerability with your subjects? Did you find things in people you weren’t expecting, when originally coming up with the idea?

CA: What surprised me the most was throughout the process of each individual modeling, they came to a sense of liberation and comfort that I did not plan for. In searching for the understanding of vulnerability, I found a solution through experience. I also observed my own personal growth from interacting with both friends and strangers in this process. I really enjoyed the healing aspect of becoming comfortable and I am working currently on another social project now!


DL: That’s awesome! What exactly is it that draws you to working with and expressing yourself through (predominantly) clay sculpture? What types of other mediums do you usually incorporate into your work?

CA: My interest in anatomical structures derives from my passion for creating life from a material (clay) that has no previous intention of being any form. Clay is the authentic element of my visual work. Being an inter-disciplinary artist, collaboration between mediums is crucial to my practice. Use of found material and the ‘everyday occurrences’ inspire me. Then, installation and interaction enable more complex dialogue. I am working on expanding my understanding of materials, I am using more metal, bronze and wood now for future pieces.


DL: What kind of project is it that you’re working on now? What plans do you have for future art shows?

CA: I am currently working on a social project that will involve a positive conversation with trauma survivors, it will utilize clay as the primary material and documented on film. I will show my results as well as other works next September at Sierra Nevada College. Also maybe next summer at the Holland Project again if they will have me!