Maria Neil: Welcome Back, Vivien

Vivien Abrams Collens, painted steel on concrete base, 2021


Vivien Abrams Collens, a Hudson Valley-based artist, returns to her native Cleveland with new work at Maria Neil Art Project. The exhibition explores dualities found in both her work and her life. Collens finds that she faces what has until recently been a distinctly female predicament. In the 1970s, she established her artistic career in Cleveland as Vivien Abrams. Pursuing new opportunities, she relocated to New York City. “New York was good to me, I exhibited widely and received fellowships and residencies. After I married and became a mother, I took on my married name in the interest of family unity with my husband and children, not realizing this would later create a virtual break with my previous exhibition history.”

It’s not just a break in exhibition history, but also one with her collectors here in Cleveland. Adam Tully, co-gallery owner of Maria Neil Art Project with his husband John Farina, is a newer collector of her work. “Christopher, John, and I have been fans of Vivien’s work for several years. In fact, we were brought together around a mis-matching of her works we had both individually purchased at auction! After visiting her studio and her gallery space we knew that her work needed to be seen back home. We three started planning Vivien’s return to Cleveland. Christopher Richards has done a wonderful job curating a selection of playful works that are visually striking. The whole show is beautifully cohesive.”

Collens’ currently works in aluminum. “I collect metal of different thicknesses and proportions to use in my welded sculpture,” Collens explains. She transforms the metal into representations of nature without denying the medium its primary qualities. “My work is abstract but always has a subject. To me it is a dialectic between the rational and the material, between energy and stability.”

Several series of sculptures are abstracted trees or flowers, referencing gardening or floral arranging. Another series explores the forms of historic samplers created by young women to demonstrate their proficiency in needlework. Through metal geometric shapes and bent tubes, Collens transforms what are often coded as women’s hobbies, by fusing the masculine and the feminine together.

“This exhibition is an opportunity for me to share my work with old friends and to reunite the two most significant chapters of my life,” Collens explains. Maria Neil Art Project will introduce Collens’ work to a new generation of artist critics and collectors. The exhibition, Dualities, Sculptures by Vivien Abrams Collens, opens October 1 and runs through January 2022.


15517 Waterloo Road, Suite 1B
Cleveland, Ohio 44110

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