Tonya Solley Thornton hails from a long lineage of crafters, and it’s a fact she admits with unabashed pride. She developed a taste for do-it-yourself visual theatricality from her parents, inveterate holiday decorators who managed to make their Florida home into a winter wonderland during the region’s balmy December. Her Pennsylvania grandmother taught her how to make ‘spoon roses,’ produced by gently melting pink plastic utensils into flora infinitely more graceful than their throwaway source material. The posies can often be found in her sculptures, which often take the form opulent, seemingly enchanted environments.

The pieces she creates are infused with an insistent sense of melancholy, something that stems from dying art forms and the powerful perfume that hangs over import stores and estate sales. Thornton’s art is steeped in a sense of a lost Americana, of a mid-century pop culture aesthetic grown out of the foundations of the Victorian era’s emphasis in excess ornamentation. She also has a deep appreciation for endangered materials – things like plastic flowers that have given way to seemingly more tasteful, but much less interesting silk versions.

The garden folly of an installation included in this exhibition was inspired by 1960s-vintage parade floats, those seemingly hovering flower-covered platforms meant to showcase beauty pageant winners in giant hoop skirt dresses. Those anointed women were required to slowly wave at spectators – for hours on end. That repetitive motion is reflected in the slow, mechanized rotation of Thornton’s swan-necked shrubs. Though they may resemble mythic creatures that are running out of steam, we’re equally aware that these things, like Thornton’s work, are in it for the long haul.