Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Artist Petah Coyne will discuss her photography and sculpture in an illustrated talk at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, in the Pruyne Lecture Room (Fayerweather 115) at Amherst College. Coyne is known for her large sculptures made of wax or horsehair within which are hidden figures of animals, saints and other found objects. Her talk is sponsored by the Mead Art Museum, where the exhibition “Back to the Future: Contemporary American Art from the Collection,” on view from March 30 through Aug. 26, includes some of Coyne’s work. A reception for the artist will be held in the Mead Art Museum following the lecture. Coyne’s talk is free and open to the public.
Coyne’s sculptures combine figurative and abstract traditions to poetically evoke contradictions of life and death, fragility and strength, and celebration and mourning. She uses such disparate materials as taxidermy, beads, bows, flowers, candles and statuettes, which she buries inside intricately built armatures made of white or black wax or woven horsehair. She has said about the activity of burying, “For me, whatever is most important, most valuable, most private, I always bury deep within the sculpture.” Her sculptural forms are characterized by great mass and extreme fragility. They hang from the ceiling or wall or lie on the floor. Coyne creates environments in the way she positions the sculptures—all the objects interact in imagined wonderlands.
Coyne also makes large scale black and white photographs that capture bodies in motion and moments in time. One of these photographs, Untitled #735 (Monks II), 1992, is currently on view at the Mead Art Museum. Coyne’s work has been shown in a major retrospective at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona, in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, at the Chicago Cultural Center and in the Sculpture Center and Galerie Lelong in New York. Her work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the High Museum of Art and the Corcoran Museum of Art. Coyne has received a Guggenheim Foundation grant, three NEA Grants and two Rockefeller Awards.