Lonnie Holley: Improvisations


“My art and my music are like Siamese twins that I have never tried to separate. When I sit down to make music, or art, I’m always looking at the past, the now, and far off into the future for greater ideas about how to make the world we live in a better place. My mother gave birth to me and put me out on Mother Earth. But my mama’s gone now, so Mother Earth and Mother Universe are the only two I’ve got left, and I will continue to work to show appreciation to them and to the ancestors within.”—Lonnie Holley

A rich sampling of artworks and song lyrics, all transcribed and published here for the first time, by the Atlanta–based artist and musician (dubbed “the insider’s outsider” by The New York Times) whose remarkable oeuvre—whether it be found revelatory assemblages, drawings, paintings, or songs—comes from a deeply improvisatory methodology.  

Lonnie Holley is an artist and musician whose artwork has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including Thumbs Up for the Mother Ship with Dawn DeDeaux at MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts (2017); Everything That Wasn’t White: Lonnie Holley at the Elaine de Kooning House at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, New York (2021); and Called to Create: Black Artists of the American South at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. (2022–2023). Holley, who has collaborated musically with Dirty Projectors and Animal Collective, has released a number of albums, including Keeping a Record of It (Dust-to-Digital, 2013), Mith (Jagjaguwar, 2018), National Freedom (Jagjaguwar, 2020), Broken Mirror: A Selfie Reflection with Matthew E. White (Spacebomb Records, 2021), and Oh Me Oh My (Jagjaguwar, 2023).