Ohio University Southern hosts sculptor

Sometimes a tree branch isn’t just a tree branch.

Starting March 20, those visiting Ohio University Southern’s art gallery will have the opportunity to see a variety of common, everyday objects transformed through Dylan Collins’ “Once Familiar” series.

“Beneath their seemingly placid exteriors, the common objects we live with have the power to trigger both deep-seated memories and a wide range of often contradictory emotions,” said Collins. “In the ‘Once Familiar’ series, I transform some of these ordinary items that populate our world, imbuing them with surreal, dreamlike qualities.”

A native of Illinois, Collins studied sculpture, earning his Master of Fine Arts from Kent State University in Ohio. His work includes processes such as metal casting, sculptural blacksmithing, mixed media drawing, found object assemblage and 3D printing.

The series includes large sculptures, such as “Hyper-trophy,” which is an installation comprised of forged tree branches, steel diamond plate leaves and attenuated, lathe-turned acorns mounted on cast rubber hunting trophies. “As this piece continues to evolve with various finishing and display methods, I have enjoyed updating the recognizable format of trophy and specimen to symbolically reflect the universal experience of nature gone awry,” said Collins.

Through this series, he also reimagines a school desk. “School desks are vehicles for enriching students through the education process, as well as symbols of our soul-crushing socialization apparatuses,” he said. “I find this duality identity of the school desk infinitely appealing, as the blankness of the object and its symbolic authority makes it ripe for transformation through the use of humor, personal narrative and the intriguing dialogue of various sculptural materials.”

Another draw of the series are works that take their title from the folk-art tradition of gathering and organizing personal memorabilia on pots, jugs and other utilitarian containers, titled “Memory Vessels.” They are three-dimensional self-portraits “ruminating on my own sense of mortality and the passage of time,” said Collins.

He has utilized a variety of contemporary materials to update the genre, including 3D printed plastic, epoxy putty, hot glue and vinyl paint. “These finished ‘Memory Vessels’ are displayed on both individual pedestals and custom-built plywood crates, the latter of which references caskets, cenotaphs or places of burial, which helps to further reinforce my interest in our cultural methods of memorialization.”

“Once Familiar” will be on display March 20 – April 20 at Ohio University Southern’s gallery located in Room 111 in the Dingus Technology Center. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and there will be an opportunity to meet the artist via Zoom on Friday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m.

March 17, 2023
Staff reports