Urgent Museum Notice

Petah Coyne

A black-and-white photograph of a light-skinned adult older woman seen from the chin up. She has a salt-and-pepper bob haircut and wears a dark turtleneck.

Photo Credit: Grace Roselli, Pandora's BoxX Project

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
  • NMWA Exhibitions

    • Steven Scott Collects: Donations and Promised Gifts to the Permanent Collection, 2005
    • Partners in Printmaking: Works from SOLO Impression, 1996

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.

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