Sidney-Pacific dormitory (Building NW86) 1st floor lobby
Best known for her large-scale hanging and floor-bound sculptures, Petah Coyne explores humanist themes of faith, fragility, beauty, death, and decay in mixed-media. Coyne’s work is distinguished in its complex materiality and a labor-intensive process, both of which are palpable to perception. The production of a single work often spans multiple years. An assemblage wire mesh, feathers, ribbons, artificial flora, and millinery birds, all covered in translucent layers of wax, Coyne’s Untitled #820S-01 is materially lush despite its monochromatic starkness.
Coyne’s work engages representational imagery through formal juxtaposition and material transformation. In Untitled #820S-01, her process of making results in a poetic abstraction that resembles accumulations of ice, snow, or a pandemic fungus. The veil of trickling wax, which covers the surface of Untitled #820S-01 both conceals and exposes the work’s embedded objects, such as birds in flight, that seem to be suspended in time. The work is unsettled in form and feeling. Untitled #820S-01 appears to hold opposed sentiments—preservation/decay, animation/stasis, beauty/grotesque, public/intimate—in equilibrium without resolving their oppositions. The suspended form is at once delicate and imposing, ostensibly fragile while dangling precariously over its viewers.
*Note - this artwork is accessible to the public by appointment only.
Wax, wire mesh, found objects,
83 in. x 70 in. x 75 in. (210.82 cm x 177.8 cm x 190.5 cm)
Gift of Vera G. List