Siphoning from the Root

  • Click on image to enlarge

    Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio
  • Click on image to enlarge

    Photo: William Arnett, 1997
Stick, roots, siphon pump, cloth, wire, metal spoon, and dirt
71 x 17 inches
Collection of
Souls Grown Deep Foundation

With the razing of Holley's environment by the city of Birmingham came daily acts of theft and vandalism. Trash and garbage appeared around Holley's property, so that it resembled a poorly maintained landfill. Holley, undaunted, created sculptures out of all of it. A corner of the yard would be vacant one day; the next, piled with burned wood and other leftovers from someone's bonfire or junk heap; and on the third, covered with Holley's impromptu sculptures made from the debris. This postapocalyptic-looking sculpture garden had a short life. Holley would act and the bulldozers would react; the City would inevitably have the last word. Holley would create sculptures; the bulldozers would destroy them. Up they went; down they came. Holley described this process as "like a yo-yo."

"The root came out of a creek, the materials bound up in the root are debris thrown away by humans, reflecting waste. We are wasting our roots, we have to siphon the spirit now like gas from a car. We cannot go into the future without having access to our roots." —Lonnie Holley