Colleen Coleman is a multidisciplinary artist and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. She completed a Master of Fine Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Sculpture with a focus on performance and printmaking. Coleman’s practice has developed over the years to include drawing, installation, performance, and social practice. Her work challenges social norms, structures, gender, and race, while in dialog with art history. The artist catalyzes healing and makes the spiritual visible amid the material.
Born in Darlington, S.C., she grew up with her mother, Dorothy Silva Coleman, a Social Activist and community leader in Ansonia, Connecticut. Coleman’s maternal grandfather immigrated to Connecticut in 1917 from the Cape Verdean Islands, Africa. During the Great Migration, her maternal grandmother arrived in the state alone at 14, from Newport News, Virginia, via North Carolina. Coleman majored in Art History and Painting at Central Connecticut State University. Surrealism and Flux’s movements sparked her interest in Art as a psychological study. Other artistic influences are Alice Neel, Howardina Pindell, Adrian Piper, Fred Wilson, Martin Puryear, and Sol Lewitt, who have all inspired Coleman’s practice.
Over the years, she has shared her creative process in schools, community organizations, and jails, including artists in residencies at the Yale Art Gallery, New Haven Jail, the New Haven Police Academy, Kingswood Oxford School, and Weeksville Heritage Center. She teaches Art at a Title 1 elementary charter school in Harlem, NY., where she has established a culturally competent Art Curriculum.
Coleman has attended artist residencies at Vermont Studio Center as the recipient of the Civil Society Institute Fellowship, Oxbow, and Chautauqua Visual Arts Residency 2022.
In 1994, Coleman received the Greater New Haven Arts Councils Award for her work in community arts. In 1997, she represented the City of New Haven as a Sister City delegate in Sierra Leone, Africa. In 2001 Coleman received the Connecticut Commission on the Arts Distinguished Advocate for the Arts Award. Coleman received two Connecticut Commission on the Arts Fellowships in 2002; she was awarded in Sculpture and in 2007 in Painting.
Coleman’s work as an art administrator has included being a Program Coordinator and Interim Director for the Urban Artist Initiative, an NEA-funded Connecticut Commission on the Arts program in partnership with the Institute for Community Research (ICR), Hartford, CT. She was the Artistic Director for the ICR, where she bridged Art and research. She has organized and supported artists and cultural organizations throughout Connecticut, curating exhibitions and public events.