Lucy Lyon: Every Gesture Tells a Story
In these pandemic days of limiting contact with others and contemplating the dangers of simply being with another person in a shared space, Lucy Lyon’s ambiguous figurative works take on new meaning. Using a stunning combination of technical prowess and a sculptor’s eye, the artist transforms cast glass into atmospheric settings whose characters’ stories, stances, and placement are open to viewer interpretation. Whether solitary or in groups, the figures reflect their state of mind through gesture.
Lyon says: “Even though we are all meeting up with each other and interacting in twos or threes or crowds, each of us is essentially alone. That brings up a bit of melancholy, but it also makes the individual unique and therefore very important.”
An only child, Lyon was artistically inspired at a young age by perusing her mother’s art books that depicted works by Edgar Degas, Francisco Goya and Thomas Hart Benton. Later, in her early twenties, the artist became aware of Edward Hopper’s work. Though Hopper’s were painted and Lyon’s are cast in glass, their figures convey a shared sense of being alone, isolated, even in the company of other figures, reflecting that people have private thoughts in public places.
Born in 1947 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Lyon graduated in 1971 from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, earning a BA in philosophy. Further educated at Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington, she has taken a number of workshops across the country from well-known glass artists. Working with glass since 1979, for the past 26 years the artist has been creating breathtaking tableaus from her Jaconita, New Mexico, studio.
Lyon’s work is included in the permanent collections of numerous museums including Imagine Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida; Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida; Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Michigan; and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass, Neenah, Wisconsin. Public commissions include the Sandy Hook Memorial; Night Read for Glencoe Public Library, Glencoe, Illinois; and Waiting Room for Western New Mexico University, Silver City, New Mexico. Recent exhibitions include Divergent Materiality, at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Narratives in Glass, held at Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, California. Lyon is represented by Habatat Galleries and Lewallen Galleries, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
As with many artists, the seductive quality of glass, along with its ability to be sculpted, attracted Lyon to her medium. In much of her work characters read in libraries, places where one can be in a private and public space simultaneously. Settings or environments have been pared down over the years to simple geometric forms. Walls present opportunities to explore color and blending. For Lyon, the greatest challenge and satisfaction is born of sculpting her figures using subtle gesture - a turn of the head or twist of the hips- to express the figure’s state of mind. The refined figure is the cornerstone of Lyon’s sculpture.