Language is both subject and primary material for Collins. This diptych belongs to an ongoing series of works called “erasures.” Using graphite, Collins first copied corresponding verses from two English translations of The Odyssey at large scale. Then she erased all of the text except for one passage, the moment when Odysseus, weeping, finally returns to his homeland, but no longer recognizes it. The two remaining passages read very differently, underscoring the potential failures of language. Collins began her engagement with The Odyssey following the U.S. Presidential election of 2016, but this work and the group to which it belongs also speak more broadly to the experience of diaspora and displacement, whether through slavery or the Great Migration.
The Odyssey: 1961 / 1967
Graphite and fixative toner on paper.
44 x 30 inches (112 x 75 cm) (each)
Gift of the Modern and Contemporary Collectors Committee.
The artist (Patron Gallery, Chicago); from whom acquired by the Morgan (2021).