Throughout her career, Holzer has delivered texts in formats that range from the official and austere to the playful and everyday. Holzer’s works of the late 1970s and early 1980s were posters displayed throughout the streets of New York City. Passersby would often add their own reflections, critiques, and deletions; over time, the posters deteriorated or were torn down. Holzer has also printed text on single-use Styrofoam cups, condoms, and T-shirts, interrupting the everyday and mundane with challenging or tender content. As the artist was invited to work with major institutions and world-renowned buildings, she also began to produce enduring and sometimes permanent, site-specific works, often out of stone or LED displays.
Of her work in stone, Holzer has said, “I appreciate and depend on the ephemeral and disembodied—and on solid rocks. […] When words are carved in stone, they can be touched, they can be read with the hand, they might be perceived differently than when on the page. Marble and granite lock time while electronic signs and projections signal differently. Rows of benches might have people imagine waiting rooms, courtrooms, hospitals, and churches, for better and worse.” The drawings used to prepare these engraved stoneworks have, by contrast, a more fragile and palimpsest-like quality. We see notations by the artist and other manufacturing marks that are byproducts of the process of transferring text from tracing paper to stone.
The artist still produces ephemeral work, most notably her temporary, site-specific light projections, where letters slip over architectural facades or through the branches of trees before disappearing into the night sky. Recent works have also included trucks delivering timely messages of loss, courage, and hope while driving through the streets and past landmarks in major cities across the United States.