Bonnie Collura, Sleeping Death (Martyr Yellow), 1997, plaster, gauzing, foam, 78×58×51 inches. Courtesy of Basilico Fine Arts.
Painted sleek and smooth, almost candy-coated in their plastic finish, Bonnie Collura’s sculptures long to be touched. They tempt, like a shiny red apple. And much like her luring, alluring work, Collura promises, and delivers much more than is at first apparent. She seems to thrill in manipulating the foam, plaster, putty, glue, and paint that compose her forms; but beyond that, she seems equally excited to not merely throw new spins on old iconography, but to weave at the very least three mythic narratives, and in doing so create an aggregate myth of female transformation.
In her first solo show at Basilico Fine Arts, Collura’s influences are easily apparent: her Sleeping Death (Martyr Yellow) clearly revisits Bernini’s The Blessed Ludovica Albertoni in all its swirling, Baroque drama; in White, Walt Disney’s Snow White is easily recognizable, although now it seems she’s sprouted antlers from her ears. Be it the Crow/Persephone fertility myth (see Sleeping Death’s accompanying corn cobs), the ecstatic Ludovica waiting for Christ and for Heaven to claim her, or the innocent, soon-to-be-rescued Snow White, Collura has traced the lineage to its source, thrown all these icons together, and then rebuilt them. She blends their stories; she transforms them, just as they have been transformed themselves. In longing to be touched, in luring us to stroke their polished surfaces, these sculptures also threaten to be like a poison apple—then we would be the ones who would be transformed.