Bound: An Interview with Erin Ethridge and Colleen Marie Foley
Interview conducted by Aza Pace
Interdisciplinary artists Erin Ethridge and Colleen Marie Foley have been working together under the pseudonym Thorn since 2015. Their solo and collaborative work has been shown in venues such as MANA Contemporary, Grounds for Sculpture, the Denison Museum, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, The Mint Museum, and Sunday Sessions at MoMA Ps1. Jointly, they’ve been awarded residences at Fjuk Arts Center (Iceland), Chulitna Research Institute (Alaska), Elsewhere Museum (North Carolina), and Rhizome DC (Washington DC). They both received their MFAs from Alfred University, where Colleen studied electronic integrated arts and Erin studied sculpture. Erin is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Appalachian State University in North Carolina, and Colleen is a Video Editor and Animator in upstate New York. Find more of their work at thorncollaborative.com.
Aza Pace spoke with Erin and Colleen over email about their recent video collaboration, “Bound” (which you can view below). Made during a period of quarantine and isolation due to the Pandemic, “Bound” is a poem about longing for a loved one from afar and finding solace in both technology and the natural world. From their respective homes and video channels, Erin and Colleen sought visual analogies of intimacy embedded in their bodies and the landscapes of the Catskills and the Blue Ridge. They attempted to breach the space between them, collapsing 700 miles of the Appalachians into an infinitesimal edge. By treating the inner edge of a two-channel video as both a meeting point and fault line, “Bound” explores a digital realm where space between phrases, bodies, mountain ranges, and time frames can be folded and rearranged, fragments sutured and healed. “Bound” is currently on view in “Appalachia In Focus” at the Denison Museum in Granville, Ohio until April 10th.
Aza Pace: You describe “Bound” as a “poem about longing for a loved one from afar” that imaginatively collapses that distance via landscape and technology. Could you tell me more about how you think of “Bound” as a poem? For example, the combination of image, text, and music throughout the piece led me to think about your work in terms of lyric, the poetic tradition with roots in song and performance.
Thorn Collaborative: Even though both our backgrounds are in visual arts, we’ve always used writing as architecture to structure our work. For “Bound,” we started by taking turns writing a single line of poetry, and ultimately that call-and-response process became the template for how we created the visuals. It informed the cadence of the editing and the music. The visual structure of two-channel video also reminds us of an open book, with the seam down the center acting as a binding.
Poets are so specific about where each word lives, which words bump up against each other, how much negative space is around them, what shape the poem makes on the page. Everything matters, carries weight, changes the whole. We thought similarly about the elements in “Bound.” Our shots, the music, the