Lonnie Holley is an artist, musician, filmmaker and educator. Born in 1950 as the seventh of twenty-seven children he grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and is now based in Atlanta.
In 1979, Holley made his first sandstone carvings to mark the graves of family members killed in a house fire. He continued making sculptural forms from the same material as well as assemblages of found objects including umbrellas, wire, pipe, old cameras, crosses, driftwood and animal skulls. The sculptures numbered in the hundreds, spreading over the hill where Holley lived, next to Birmingham airport and into the woods, taking over neighbouring gardens and abandoned lots, which he later titled ‘the environment’.
Holley’s life and work is an improvisational practice manifested through drawing, painting, filmmaking, photography, performance and sound. His sculptures combine found materials with narratives that commemorate people, places and events and are displayed in museums across the US while his music is similarly born out of the sculptural layering of sound and language improvised and shaped in real time. Holley never performs the same song twice.