May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

Don’t Go Crossing My Fence

Lonnie Holley (b. 1950) Guides



Wood, garden hose, mop, lamp base, and other found materials

81 x 52 x 23"

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York

Gift of Ron and June Shelp, 2013.5.2

Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Don’t Go Crossing My Fence

Lonnie Holley’s interdisciplinary practice encompasses, among other forms, sculpture and spoken-word performances. Rooted in the cultural tradition of the “yard show” by black artists in the American South, his pieces introduce political, autobiographical, and poetic narratives. Speaking about the mnemonic quality of the material he uses for his assemblages, Holley said: “Today is not the same as yesterday. The trials and the tribulations of today are harder than yesterday. It seems like the wire, the protective fence itself, kind of keeps everything well balanced. There are big crosses, little crosses, crosses that support and that hold the fence together. The fence can easily indicate ‘being behind it’ and ‘locked up.’ Prisoners are locked behind a fence. When we wear a cross, or when we show a cross, we try to show that something is going on spiritually with us, that we remember the crucifix, remember the struggle that went about on the cross, remember the death, remember the blood, remember the turmoil of the body being cracked and shifted and broken. And then, also, we remember the nails, remember the harsh pain, one human body having so much pain. How can we not see these crosses?”

Valérie Rousseau, “Don't Go Crossing My Fence,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.