Stacey Holloway

Studio NovElements of the Uncanny

Written by Brett Levine

Photo by Jerry Siegel


Stacey Holloway loves movies. That is part of what gives her works such a sense of movement, as if they have been stopped mid-action. “I see all my pieces like stills,” she explains. “I’ve always been interested in film studies, and a lot of the techniques I use are drawn from that fascination.” She makes this statement standing in a studio filled with works of all shapes and sizes—enormous interactive pieces fill one section, while intimate, almost miniature castings inhabit another. The variety of works and explorations is exciting. Holloway arrived at this point after walking a careful and considered path. “I wanted to do performance art,” she says, “but I felt too awkward as a performer. My kinetic works became a way to try to represent that awkwardness.” This led her to create “Dreams Hold No Promises,” an eight-by-16 foot diorama of what she describes as almost a “bucolic Midwestern landscape” filled with models of fallen planes. “I wanted to describe the passage from adolescence into adulthood and the anxieties that accompany it,” she says. “The landscape and fallen airplanes symbolize the time in life where our foundations shift and our worlds change. What we understand as true in childhood gets radically altered as we enter adulthood; all the rules change, and it can be frightening.”

More recently, recognizing the issues inherent in desire, wanting, and yearning, Holloway has been creating a world of fantastical and phantasmagorical creatures that inhabit a world somewhere between memory, fantasy, dream, and reality. “As I child I always imagined I would either be a veterinarian or an artist,” she says. “My mother and I volunteered at a wildlife shelter, and I have always been fascinated by both domestic and wild animals.” Bringing this fascination to its logical conclusion, Holloway now creates animals that meld elements of both into beings that, at first glance, could certainly inhabit the everyday world. This is evident in her creation of a “zonkey,” a hybrid zebra and donkey that pulls a small trailer in “The Grass is Always Greener.”

In addition to creating these creatures, Holloway is also interested in constructing surreal situations. Consider, for example, “Balancing Act,” in which a fawn teeters on an enormous set of wooden stilts, hyper-exaggerating her already precarious balance. As Holloway puts it, “I use animals to create metaphors for the challenges and difficulties that each one of us faces in everyday life.”

Now, Holloway’s works are turning more toward the domestic and also becoming even more multi-sensory. “It is as if I’m working in two ways,” she explains. “First, I’ve begun exploring ideas for a series of pieces that may include a range of scents. It allows me to find ways to have audiences become even more intimately involved.”

She is also focusing on works that include elements of architectural blueprints, as well as others that reuse pieces of larger works that are now repurposed. “My new works illustrate my own personal move to the South and the differences in topography between here and the Midwest,” she says. What results is a series of small scale, three-dimensional works, mounted on the wall like pictures, which are hilly, suburban landscapes. “I’ve always loved seeing how Alfred Hitchcock and Tim Burton use miniature landscapes to evoke particular moods in their films. I suppose I approach these works in a similar fashion. I consider these sculptures to be a kind of three-dimensional film still,” she says.

Holloway is truly an artist who moves between worlds. She might construct a pair of interactive bicycles and allow the audience to create the rest of the experience, resulting in an unexpected, beautiful, seemingly choreographed moment. In the gallery space, you might pause to consider moments of tension and uncertainty or be caught off guard by a lifelike creature you’ve just realized isn’t real. Whatever happens, she is simply trying to tell a beautiful tale: “Whether through shifts in scale or use of the surreal, in the end, my works are all about crafting a world full of allegory and surprises.”

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