Created by Edward Kienholz in 1979-80, “Sollie 17” is an assemblage artwork that depicts the final stages of a lonely man’s life. The mixed media construction consists of collected furniture and personal effects from the Pedicord Hotel in Spokane, Washington. Kienholz’s commentary on social issues such as aging, poverty, and moral hypocrisy is exemplified in this artwork.
By providing a voyeuristic glimpse into a life characterized by solitary despair, “Sollie 17” elicits feelings of sympathy and fear from viewers. It raises important questions about a society that disregards its elderly individuals, leaving them to sit and wait for death. The attention to detail in depictions of Sollie’s intimate moments brings an authenticity that is hard to ignore.
The artwork also serves as a reminder that every human being deserves dignity regardless of age or socioeconomic status. While societal issues may attempt to dehumanize people and strip them of their value, Kienholz uses his art to call out these problems thereby highlighting their true nature. “Sollie 17” therefore stands as a powerful critique on humanity’s treatment of its most vulnerable populations -the elderly- which remain relevant today making it an insightful sociological work.