Project Title
The Lonnie Holley Project

literary/ film 

Grant Amount


For the past 15 years I have been filming the life and work of self-taught, Alabama artist Lonnie Holley and his family. The tapes document Holley's remarkable life, working methods, materials, and his relationship to the art world—including collector Bill Arnett. It is also a record of the life of a poor, black, Southern family, told in their own words. During this time I have documented:

• The demise of Holley's celebrated art environment, after his land was purchased under imminent domain by the Birmingham International Airport.
• The Holley family's subsequent move to Harpersville, Alabama.
• The incarceration of Ezekiel, the eldest son.
• The rape of Carlonnie, the youngest daughter, and subsequent birth of a child born with spina bifida.
• A shootout with the Holley's neighbors
• And much more.


All the while Holley continues to compulsively make art; sculpture, assemblages, drawings, music, computer art, photography, and painting. It is a fascinating but complex story that touches upon poverty, race, art, social class, money, crime, violence, exploitation, and other familiar facets of the art world! I am interested in exploring media forms that permit access to this complex body of work through interactive media, the Internet, television, and other modes of delivery.


My grant will allow me to work with two Atlanta writers, Jessica Handler and Malkia Mbuzi Moore to help structure this story and move forward with the editing process.