Blog / Sister Petah


By Wendy

Meet the relatives of a good friend and you understand that person all the better: family resemblances, mannerisms, personality quirks.
That is how I felt yesterday when I met Margaret‘s kin.
Mass MOCA, the inspiring museum about four hours west of Boston, is hosting a family reunion of sorts with New York-based artist Petah Coyne’s solo show, “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” An ancestor of these works, or perhaps a great auntie, is Petah’s monumental sculpture from 2005, now on view at the Nasher Museum: Untitled #1111 (Little Ed’s Daughter Margaret). The work was the Nasher Museum’s first art acquisition after opening the museum five years ago.
In the Mass MOCA installation, Petah’s sculptures rise up like roiling islands in the “tall gallery.” Part forest tangle, part funerary procession, part evening gown I’d love to wear to a Tolstoy-era Russian ball. Petah’s signature wax-dipped flowers seem to multiply before our eyes, climbing over taxidermied peacocks, chandeliers, a gnarled tree, like the beautiful, choking wisteria vines during each North Carolina spring. If this is death, it’s death without decay, and maybe a death that is so beautiful we have nothing to fear.
The huge Mass MOCA galleries, with vast ceilings, raw brick walls and rough-hewn beams, allow Petah’s works to climb to new heights–literally. Included in the exhibition is Untitled #1180 (Beatrice), part of one of the Nasher Museum’s inaugural exhibitions in 2005, The Forest: Politics, Poetics and Practice.
It’s a wonderful thing to get to know Petah’s work better, keep up with her career, absorb her work in a such a stunning new setting and make connections to a beloved sculpture that Nasher Museum visitors see every day.

IMAGE: Untitled # 1240 (Black Cloud) courtesy the artist and Galerie Lelong, NY.

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