Urgent Museum Notice

Petah Coyne

A light-skinned older woman with dark hair streaked with gray, cut in a short bob. She wears a white, high-colored top. She smiles as her blue-gray eyes gaze directly at the camera from behind eyeglasses with a thick, dark frame.

Petah Coyne at the opening of Revival, 2017; Photo by Yassine El Mansouri

Born in 1953

Coyne’s sculptures convey tension between vulnerability and aggression, innocence and seduction, beauty and decadence, and, ultimately, life and death. Coyne’s work seems Victorian in its combination of overloaded refinement with a distinctly decadent and morbid undercurrent. She acknowledges the influence of sculptors Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois on her work.

Coyne was born in Oklahoma City, but the family moved repeatedly before settling in Dayton, Ohio, when Coyne was 12. While in high school, she took art courses at the University of Dayton, and then went on to Kent State University and graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

She changes materials every few years to approach the creative process from a fresh angle. The inspiration for each change often derives from her travels abroad. Besides creating the sculptural installations for which she is best known, Coyne also works with photography.

Coyne’s creations are extremely labor- and time-intensive. Their layered materials provide a visual record of the passage of time during Coyne’s creation of the piece. The sculptures also relate to time in the form of memory—the artist’s personal memories as well as memories these objects evoke in viewers.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Petah Coyne
  • Birth

    Oklahoma City, 1953
  • Phonetic Spelling

    Pee-tah koy-n

Works by Petah Coyne

Untitled #781

Influenced by her personal memories, literature, Catholic theology, and historical art such as European baroque sculpture, Petah Coyne explores distinctions between lushness and decay, beauty and grotesqueness. This untitled work is part of a series of white-and-pink wax sculptures that resemble rococo chandeliers, voluminous skirts, or dresses. It reflects how Coyne imagined womanhood as a girl: beautiful and extravagantly festive,...

Myriad layers of melted pink and white wax encrust and obscure the metal armature for this abstract sculpture, which hangs from satin-wrapped chains. Its color and shape, as well as the bumpy, lacy texture, evoke a frilly tutu, lavishly frosted wedding cake, or coral accretions.