Art Lecture by Sculptor Petah Coyne Hosted at SUNY New Paltz

NEW PALTZ — At 7:30 on Wednesday, November 29 the Student Art Alliance welcomes Petah Coyne to SUNY New Paltz. Coyne will present a talk in Lecture Center room 112. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Petah Coyne has achieved considerable notoriety through exhibitions featuring her hanging sculpture – always characterized by their immense size and delicate complexity. These sculptures, in their fragility and time-consuming difficulty, balance on the edge of improbability. Janet Koplos, reviewer for Art in America describes Coyne’s work: “Her early installations ranged from thousands of strung-up dried fish to dangling car engines. In the early ’90s she made huge pods of bristling wire coated with gritty black casting sand. Her 1997 exhibition at the Corcoran in Washington, D.C., and the High Museum in Atlanta featured the work for which she is probably best known, chandelier-like accretions of high-melting-point white wax embedded with birds and bows, hanging from satin-sleeved chains.”

Recent reviews of Petah Coyne’s new works have appeared in The New York Times and Art in America – testimony to both the immediacy and growing popularity of her work. Though for many years Coyne’s work was abstract and tended to be ominously dark and heavy, her recent work has signaled a shift in focus. In her piece “Untitled No.983 (Mary Marilyn Monroe)” Coyne approaches a religious theme in a unique manner. For the artist, the sculpture is a way to revisit a religious upbringing, a way to explore the role of religious faith in art. “The psychology of that past is imperative,” said Coyne in an interview with The New York Times. “There were some beautiful things about the church. I try to use those in my work too. It brings up so much material. It’s given me my art, or, at least, a lot to work around…”

Other recent works, part of a show at the Galerie Lelong in New York City, titled “Fairy Tales”, allude to religion and nature and are saturated with implications of eroticism and death. “The new works,” says Koplos, “are wall hung or freestanding, and they consist primarily of preserved animals, birds and insects, all caught in beautiful and terrible webs of dark horse hair. It was with the birds that death came most clearly into the picture. Because we associate birds with free and graceful motion, their immobility can only suggest mortality.”

Petah Coyne has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her work is included in the permanent collections of numerous museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of American Art. Over the past 15 years she has been involved in countless solo and group exhibitions including, most recently, her premier with the Galerie Lelong and the 2000 Whitney Biennial.

The Student Art Alliance, sponsor of the Art Lecture Series at SUNY New Paltz, receives its funding from the Student Association. For more information, or for directions to the Lecture Center, call 845-257-3872. For a complete list of upcoming events, visit the online calendar of Arts Events at

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