Untitled #1242 (Black Snowflake)

About Petah Coyne

Petah Coyne’s elaborate sculptures, characterized by a Baroque sensibility and macabre subject matter, reference an array of subjects and themes including literature, the Southern Gothic, and Christian iconography. Composed of velvet, candles, birdcages, chicken-wire fencing, hatpins, feathers, vinyl, horsehair, taxidermy peacocks, mud, and sticks, among countless other materials, her works are richly tactile, and occupy a space between the beautiful and the grotesque. In Coyne’s massive installation, Untitled #1093 (Buddha Boy) (2001-03), for example, a Madonna figure stands amidst melted wax candles and pearls. She also produces ghostly photographs that depict blurred figures of Buddhist monks and children, and draws from her own biography and associations to create her work. “The harder you strive for perfection, the greater the flaws,” she has said. “What to me is most interesting is being able to open up your overcoat, be totally naked, cellulite and all.” Coyne’s sculptures and installations have been compared to the assemblages of Picasso, Schwitters, and Rauschenberg.

American, b. 1953, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, based in Brooklyn, New York