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5 Fast Facts: Petah Coyne

Blog Category:  Artist Spotlight
A sculpture hangs in a dark gallery. The sculpture comprises layers of melted pink and white wax that form a dress-like shape hanging from satin-wrapped chains. Its color, shape, and bumpy, lacy texture, evoke a frilly tutu, lavishly frosted wedding cake, or coral.

Impress your friends with five fast facts about Petah Coyne (b. 1953), whose work is on view at NMWA.

A sculpture hangs in a dark gallery. The sculpture comprises layers of melted pink and white wax that form a dress-like shape hanging from satin-wrapped chains. Its color, shape, and bumpy, lacy texture, evoke a frilly tutu, lavishly frosted wedding cake, or coral.
Petah Coyne, Untitled #781, 1994; Wax, plastic, cloth and steel, 62 x 35 x 44 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in Honor of the Artist; © Petah Coyne, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

1. Multitalented Maven

Although she is known for her sculptures, Coyne double-majored in photography and printmaking at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Coyne reconnected with photography while traveling. Using handmade pinhole cameras, she creates abstract photographs focusing on subjects’ movements rather than their forms.

2. It’s Personal

Coyne’s personal experiences influence her work, but she also leaves them open to interpretation. When confronted with her sculptures, viewers often compare them to layer cakes, wedding gowns, chandeliers, overstated summer hats, bird cages, and more. What does her work evoke for you?

3. Little Women

Coyne views her sculptures as extensions of herself, and refers to them as “my girls.”

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.
Petah Coyne, Untitled #781, 1994; Wax, plastic, cloth and steel, 62 x 35 x 44 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in Honor of the Artist; © Petah Coyne, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

4. Sparking Interest

For her first wax work, Coyne constructed a hat for a friend using hot glue, wire, and candles. When she lit the candles, the glue ignited and the hat went up in flames!

5. Inspiring Company

Untitled #781 hangs in NMWA’s third floor sculpture gallery. When Coyne started working, she was inspired by two other artists who suspended large works from the ceiling: Eva Hesse and Louise Bourgeois.

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