|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Known for installations that are suspended and hair-like, and for
chandelier creations of partially melted white wax embedded with birds
and bows hanging
from satin-sleeved chains, Petah Coyne is a sculptor fascinated by the
bizarre. Her pieces are usually large, some as big as nineteen
feet, and are characterized by great mass and fragility.
production is labor intensive, the creations of a very hard-working
artist, seldom taking awake time away from her studio. |
In the early 1990s, Coyne made huge
pods of bristling wire coated with gritty black casting sand.
Sometimes she supplements
her installations with large black and white photographs she makes of
figures or vegetation in motion. She has also done a series
of female figures she refers to as "my girls", and describes as
extensions of herself---aggressive and vulnerable. Of her
work, she says: "The harder you strive for perfection, the greater the
flaws. What to me is most interesting is being able to open up
your overcoat, be totally naked, cellulite and all." (Tillman)
From an interview with the artist for Bomb Magazine, Lynne
Tillman wrote: "Few artists, or people, generate as much good
feeling as Petah does just by existing. And then there's her
expansive work. Her usually bigger-than-life sculptures might
borrow from natural elements–earth, hair, trees, wax–and hang from the
ceiling or lie on the floor. She constructs environments, or
habitats, in which single objects act and interact with each other, are
entangled in space to compose imagined, fantastic worlds. Her
recent photographs of brides are like dreams: concoctions, fragments of
moments, moments already lost as they're lived. Petah lives and
works in frenetic, long moments, with tremendous discipline, slipping
in and out of view."
In the Tillman interview, Coyne spoke of the many 'associations' that
go into her work such as her fascination with Japanese literature and
culture that began as a child when her family lived in Hawaii, her
horrific feelings from 9/11 and the World Trade Center attack, the
bombing of Hiroshima during World War II, her time in Japan in 1992
when she had an Asian Cultural Council Rockefeller Grant, and her
When Coyne, who was born in Oklahoma City, first moved to New York City
in 1979, she worked for Chanel during the day, and went to Boston every
other weekend to continue her work for a physician, which involved
talking to patients about health issues that their families were unable
to deal with. Of these experiences, she became much aware of
death and mourning and religious rituals, issues that became personal
when her brother died of cancer.
She was a student at the Art Academy in Cincinnati, graduating in 1977,
and she has honorary degrees from that Academy and Kent State
University. From 1988 to 1994, she served on the Board of
Directors of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and from
1990 to 1994, she was a member of the graduate faculty of the School of
Visual Arts in New York City. Among her recognitions are a
Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Grant in 1989, a Fellowship in sculpture
from the National Foundation of the Arts in 1990, and in 2000, an
Artist-in-Residence award from the Sirus Project to work in Cork
County, Ireland. Her studio remains in New York City.
1997, the Corcoran Museum in Washington D.C. and the High Museum in
Atlanta featured her work in solo exhibitions.
Public collections with her work include Albright-Know Gallery,
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Diego
Museum of Contemporary Art, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Spencer
Museum of Art.
Lynne Tillman, Bomb Magazine interview with the artist, (undated) http://www.bombsite.com/coyne/coyne7.html
John Yah, 'Enter the Dragon', ARTnews, September 1999, p. 124
Who's Who in American Art, 2003-2004, 25th Edition.
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