"Growing up in Pittsburgh, I was surrounded by steel mills, iron bridges, and skyscrapers...themes that ignited my imagination and inspired me. I found myself drawn to the gritty beauty of cast-off artifacts from a bygone era – a time in which the mines, mills and factories forged the soul of our nation.
As an interior designer, I wanted to transform these historic remnants into art that would capture the spirit of America and reawaken the essence of those earlier times. Using a proprietary material called Metalar™, initially created as a stand-alone medium, I found that I could bind together these hidden treasures into a bas-relief. By breathing life into forgotten artifacts, I seek to give voice to the past and memory to the future."
“Wayne has a unique artistic voice and a magical way of transforming discarded
material. Just as the worlds and landscapes they represent are no longer with
us, you show in your work how beautiful they can be imagined…They
are attractive, gritty and convey to me a sense of optimism and hope.”
Tom Smart, Director of the Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh
"Each panel is handmade, a work of art." In applying the finish,
the company strives for great depth of colour, adding almost a third dimension to the
Joan Podel, Retail Attraction Magazine, UK
Mike May, Associate Editor, Pittsburgh Magazine
"It's magic; watchbands become the top of the Chrysler Building,
spark plug connectors become gargoyles."
Patsy Garlan, Author
"Holly Wayne integrates history, science and technology, evoking
the transformative power of the Industrial Age. Her innovative style is ideally
suited to interpreting corporate identity."
Sean Cosgrove, Architect
"The Miracle in Holly Wayne's art is its currency - from artifacts
that are both familiar and old, she fashions works of art that bridge generations
and transcend time with a raw, edgy beauty."
Nick Palazzetti, Ph.D., Regional Director of Development, ProLiteracy Worldwide
"Holly Wayne sees the drama and beauty in everyday objects the rest of us dismiss.
Our personal view of the world is transformed by her creativity."
Randy Cooly, President, Westsylvania Heritage Corporation, Hollidaysburg, PA
in her Pittsburgh studio,
Holly Wayne stares at a 1940's
front-on picture of the N&W
Y6 Number 2197 steam locomotive.
Crowded around her on all
sides are pieces of old machinery,
antique kitchen tools, disassembled
motors -- the tools of her
Holly Wayne is an artist. Her vision is to capture the grandeur of the industrial
past. To do this she creates three dimensional pictures of settings inspired
by memories and old photographs of America's industrial heritage: steel mills,
chemical factories, city skylines, barges, and railroads. Art portraying industrial
scenes is hardly new, but what makes her work unique is the way she creates these
pictures. Scenes are built up by assembling ordinary objects. A chair leg becomes
a chemical smoke stack, a caulking gun becomes a furnace, a refrigerator coil
becomes a cooling tower, battery terminals become windows, a thermometer becomes
a radio tower, a cake pan becomes a building.
Using old artifacts is not the whole story. To make the picture come alive and
provide cohesion between the parts, she embeds the pieces in a special substrate
that she invented, called MetalarTM. MetalarTM is a resin-based,
metallic substance that glimmers in the light, and provides a luminescent backdrop
for the scene. It can be fashioned in many colors to fill in expanses of sky
and water, lending the picture an added dimension. It makes one feel like it
is possible to see through the surface of the picture.
The combination of MetalarTM with old mechanical artifacts allows
her work to function on two levels. On one level the art can be viewed as
an assemblage in which the parts contribute to the overall scene or image. On
another level the embedded parts themselves become objects of interest.
For example, in "Nova at Dusk" the overall piece
is of an operating chemical plant, but when viewed at close-range, the constituent
objects appear as interesting historical entities in their own
right. For example, Holly Wayne uses a cheese grater, double popsicle mold,
toilet float, tube cutters, refrigerator backing, gun cleaner parts, oil filters,
and watch parts, among the myriad objects embedded in the picture. Other works of art
are more abstract, such as "Industrial
Ice Cubes." Right now she is working on a railroad piece. Railroads,
a favorite theme in her work, have appeared in many of her art pieces. "Growing
up in Pittsburgh I used to watch trains crossing nearby trestles and bridges.
I used to wonder where they were going, and imagined hopping on one. For me,
they were an integral part of living in Western Pennsylvania."
Ms. Wayne’s fascination with such industrial images stems from her early
experiences as a child growing up in Pittsburgh. Her father was a steam fitter
and operating engineer who ran machinery like cranes, high lifts, bulldozers,
and a Pettibone handler. He helped build steel mills, bridges, and power plants,
and used to take her to see where he worked, pointing out the role he played
and talking about how it all was constructed. Later in life these experiences
would come back to inspire her art.
Her artwork is often large. A typical picture will be 4 feet by 6 feet, and can
easily weigh up to 250 pounds (unframed), although the train pieces tend to be smaller. Pictures
are usually housed in elaborate frames, often done in a classical museum-quality
shadow box (without glass), which she designs independently for each piece. She says, “I
sometimes combine up to 6 different kinds of moldings to make a single frame.
The sophistication of the frames contrasts with the simplicity of the parts,
setting off the pieces, and helping to raise the mundane to the level of high
art. A good example of a railroad piece is "Gallitzen
Tunnel," which depicts a head-on view of a 1916 vintage Norfolk and
Western Railroad steam locomotive emerging from a tunnel. The picture is consists
of about 50 artifacts. For example, the circular boiler is formed from a housing
for an alternator, miner's number tags, a light bulb, a large nut, and a wheel
bearing; the bell is made from a pressure relief valve; the bridge from a fire
grate and a bicycle chain; the ladders from an assembly line chain. "The frames themselves cost thousands of dollars. It really isn't an area in which to skimp."
Holly Wayne Productions is the firm that she founded and runs out of McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. Its primary clients are large corporations who typically place her artwork in boardrooms, corporate lobbies, and CEO offices. Often her work is commissioned. For example, the picture "Nova at Dusk" is a recreation of a Chemical Factory for Nova Chemicals, a large firm headquartered south of Pittsburgh (a second commission for the new headquarters in Abu Dhabi, 2014). Other past clients include Bloomingdale's in New York City, Chrysler Corporation in Detroit, Westinghouse and MotivePower Industries of Pittsburgh.
A number of projects
are currently in progress. One is a tribute to New York City, which she started
in 2000. She plans to do a series: one of her completed works, the
2nd in the series, features the Twin Towers set in its skyline. The
piece will eventually find its home in New York and is to be featured in an upcoming
installment of The Weekend Today in New York (NBC) television show, as well as
Life Around Here (ABC). Another project that she is contemplating is a museum
exhibition featuring scenes of Western Pennsylvania. She plans on creating a
dozen vignettes, each devoted to a different facet of industrial life in Southwestern
Pennsylvania. These vignettes will be accompanied by a book, written by authorities
in the field of industrial history and culture, which will provide a photographic
and narrative interpretation. A professionally commissioned audio piece will
document the sounds associated with each vignette and serve as a self-guide through
The challenge in producing these pictures is to find the right pieces. In order
to have a sufficient pool of artifacts, Ms. Wayne spends most of her weekends
visiting flea markets, antique stores, and scrap yards. Her factory houses all
of the things that she acquires, storing them in various shelves, cases, boxes
and tabletops. To the untrained eye, the place looks like a junkyard; to Holly
Wayne it represents the discarded past waiting to come alive again.
Educated at Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York City, Holly Wayne started
out as an interior designer. For many years she worked in that field, discovering
art later in life. Some of her first forays were as a commercial artist creating resin
panels using her newly invented MetalarTM. These were featured as display floors,
walls, and backdrops in places like Bloomingdale’s, The Detroit Chrysler
Auto Show and Mayor's Jewelers. Later she started creating composite works. "What drew me to
three-dimensional pictures was an interest in reclaiming objects of the past
as art. I found myself collecting old broken metal things, like motor parts,
without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with them. At some point I was looking at this pile of broken stuff and I realized that I wanted to assemble some of it into a piece of art, to be more specific, a somewhat realistic Pittsburgh piece of art. I called the Pittsburgh evening news and told them I had a Pittsburgh piece of art that they might be interested in shooting. They told me they would be there the next morning at 9:00 A.M. for a feature television broadcast. I had to stay up all night and create it, then pick out an outfit. I slept 2 hours. It was a relatively simple picture of a steel mill, Downtown Pittsburgh skyline and The Point (where the rivers meet)." Later as she developed into
an established outsider artist, the pictures would become larger and more complex,
often involving hundreds of parts.
"Creating the pictures is difficult because I have to work on them while they are on a horizontal surface. This makes it hard to know how the picture is going to look when it hangs vertically, and from a distance. I often have to stand on a ladder and lean over a piece to get a sense of its overall composition, but it really isn't ideal."
Returning to the piece at hand, she notices that something is missing: the cowcatcher
at the bottom of the locomotive. She thinks hard for a moment and recalls having
bought a roller bearing cover in a flea market some years ago. "Now where
is it? Ah yes…", rummaging through shelves of such artifacts she
finds what she was looking for, lays it in place. "Perfect."