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Untitled #1111 (Little Ed's Daughter Margaret) (Beatrice)

© Petah Coyne. Photo by Peter Paul Geoffrion.

Untitled #1111 (Little Ed's Daughter Margaret) (Beatrice)

Artist: Petah Coyne (Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1953)
Culture: American
Date: 2003–2004
Medium: Specially formulated wax, fiberglass cast statuary, velvet, satin, ribbon, thread, steel understructure, PVC pipe and fittings, tree branches, fabricated tree branches, chicken-wire fencing, wire, silk flowers, pearl-headed hat pins, tassels, feathers, pumps, irrigation tubing, water, spray paint, acrylic paint, taxidermy and human hair.
132 x 63 x 72 inches (335.3 x 160 x 182.9 cm)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Museum purchase
Label Text:Petah Coyne uses wax to cast and coat beautiful natural forms such as flowers, taxidermic birds and other found materials. The forms are clearly fragile and also incorporate elements of death, preservation and decay. The deep melancholic colors and exquisite textures evoke tensions of spiritual and bodily forces in human experience. Coyne's work draws on a myriad of cultural myths and references often charged with traditional meanings but recombined into a new form.

Coyne's spiritual imagination springs in part from her Catholic upbringing. In Untitled #1111 (Little Ed's Daughter Margaret) (Beatrice), a statue of Saint Francis, embedded among the wax elements, was acquired from among the discarded, damaged works of a factory that mass-produces religious figures for churches, convents, etc. The long braid of blonde hair in this sculpture (seen on the upper right side toward the top, partially hidden inside) was given to the artist by an elderly man who told her that it was the braid of his mother, an early feminist and a female violinist in the Cleveland Symphony, who had died when he was a child. Also included are fragments of a couture dress made especially for the figure, two large stuffed fighting birds, and other little birds and feathers, tangled in the mass of wax flowers and branches.

This work embraces a deep engagement of the visitor-at random times the religious statue inside the sculpture briefly weeps. Ambiguous and mysterious, the piece recalls the miraculous statues of the saints and the Virgin popularized in Catholic tradition. "When it does cry," Coyne has said, "it will be a miracle for the viewer who just happens to be there and see those tears fall. I wanted it to be one of those instances when you as a spectator are not really sure it happened. Only a few drops of the water will be the proof, but even that won't last long."

Object number: 2005.8.1