Lonnie Holley


Eye On Grandma’s Boy
Acrylic on canvas
Black frame
20″ x 24″

Lonnie B. Holley
(b. 1950)
“My environment is always changing and evolving,
like a garden that needs tending.”

Lonnie Holley was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the 7th of 27 children. He attended school through the seventh grade, spending much of his youth in foster homes and reform schools. At fourteen years age, Holley ran away to Louisiana; he later moved to Florida and Ohio, before returning to Birmingham. During this period, he worked primarily as a short-order cook. In 1977 Holley lost two nieces in a house fire, and suffering from personal anguish, he attempted suicide. Holley prayed to God for an alternative solution to bring him from his grief.

Inspired by God, Holley created two tombstones for his deceased nieces and subsequently began to make small abstract images of animals, faces and figures for children. Employing discarded saws, knives, kitchen utensils, and nails, he carves from an industrial material similar to sandstone. Holley has explored Islam, Christianity, and spiritualism and has educated himself in African philosophy. His yard houses an environment of carvings, paintings, and sculptures assembled from salvaged materials. His pieces range in height from a few inches to
9 ½ feet, and have been collected by the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Museum. Recently, Holly has gained recognition for his music and has performed and toured with indie rock bands to great acclaim.