Val Lyle Artist Studio

Teaching vita/resume in printable pdf click here

Educational Background for Val Lyle

B.F.A. with concentrations in Sculpture and Printmaking, Ringling College of Art and Design Summa Cum Laude; MFA with concentration in Figurative Ceramic Sculpture, East Tennessee State University.

Biography for Val Lyle

Val received her three year certificate in 1989 with concentrations in Sculpture and Printmaking from Ringling College of Art and Design, producing a video and hardbound book about her undergraduate thesis titled “Binding and Compression.” She moved to New York City where she maintained a working artist studio and exhibition record for seven years. When Ringling College of Art and Design implemented the accredited four year degree, Val transferred additional courses to receive her BFA Summa Cum Laude in 1993.

Family matters brought Val back to Appalachia in 1996, where she was pleased to return to her family’s generational home in Bristol, TN.

In 2001, Val graduated with her MFA with concentration in figurative ceramic sculpture from East Tennessee State University. She developed the first MFA Thesis to be posted on the World Wide Web, which is still heavily referenced today. She has taught ceramics, sculpture, drawing I and II, painting I and II, color theory, 2D design, 3D design, and package design for graphic artists at various area institutions including Emory & Henry College, East Tennessee State University, Northeast State Community College, Virginia Highlands Community College, and Virginia Intermont College.

Val has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts/Tennessee Arts Commission and is in numerous museum, corporate and private art collections. She has permanent public art installed in six cities and is one of the resident artists at William King Museum in Abingdon, VA. She has been guest artist and lecturer at University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ringling College of Art and Design, Appalachian State University, and Mountain Empire Community College. Val has published numerous articles and has been very favorably reviewed in national arts publications.

Research interests include contemporary and traditional sculpture, contemporary and traditional two dimensional artwork, critical theory and visual culture in Appalachia. Recent studies at The American Potters Council,

 Penland School of Crafts NC, Archie Bray Foundation MT, Santa Fe Clay Studio NM, Shakerag TN, John C. Campbell Folk School NC, Appalachian Center for Crafts TN, North Carolina Pottery Center NC, International Sculpture Conference CA, Chesterwood Sculptors Workshop MA, Art Basel Miami Beach FL, SOFA Sculptural Objects and Functional Art IL, NCECA National Council on Education in the Ceramic Arts, CAA College Arts Association. Val has had twenty three solo exhibitions and been included in over fifty group exhibitions.



Selected Artist Statements
Note: I write new artist statements several times a year, as I am thinking, working and growing.

"Sanctuary" at The Turchin Center for Visual Arts, September 2011-January 2012

Focusing on creating contemporary art through an Appalachian lens, Sanctuary places abstraction and deconstructionism within the context of dilapidated wooden barns. Striking use of negative flat space off-sets vibrant color. Contemporary compositions in large scale works transcend regional nostalgia. Vernacular materials and architecture are the subjects.

“When I moved back to Appalachia after years of art making in New York City, I was compelled to address my ancestry through a new series of works,” Lyle explains. “I was amazed and pleased to discover that elements of my heritage had been present in my work all along.”

“Within the gallery space, I construct an immersion environment that references the interior of a wooden barn. Actual tobacco and a thousand strands of used hay-bailing twine from my grandfather’s barn add unmistakable aromas to evoke deep memories. It truly is a work that engages all of our senses.”

“Appalachian Vision” is nearly 100 yards of hand painted silk, double-hung so that the image is fittingly ephemeral. Made to put the viewer inside of a tobacco barn looking out, the light between the boards is richly colored like a stained glass window. The arch shaped roofline in the work adds to the feeling of a cathedral’s grace in a humble abode.

Hand-worn tobacco sticks seem to fly off the wall forming a running figure sixteen feet tall that is both coming apart and forming itself in its haste. Change is slow and feared and inevitable and critically needed here.

From the traveling exhibition series "Sanctuaries"

Art in its most successful execution evokes a deep reaction, perhaps emotional or cerebral.

This installation art, or perhaps the new term Immersion Art is better suited to describe this work, uses light, scale, textures, colors and in particular-smells-to tap into the viewers’ deeper senses.

A new visitor closes her eyes, pauses in her steps, and breathes deeply in-the aroma of good red clover hay, tobacco drying, and the distinct scent of bailing twine. A slow smile crosses her face before she opens her eyes, “Like Dorothy, I’m finally home!” she exclaims!

This piece is about memory.

A similar reaction occurs when the gallery viewer musters the courage to try out the red swing installed in the center of the space. Hesitant at first, like riding a bicycle the worn body remembers instinctively the motions of kicking out the feet to gain altitude and all the worries in the world fall away within the second pass. If one faces (swings) down the space, between the large scale paintings, a full sensation of being within the barn occurs.

The display is carefully organized from conservative traditional exhibition on one end of the hall including framed pastel drawings, monotypes, large scale paintings on canvas and large scale paintings on paper,  to evolving into organic immersion along side tobacco and hay bales that are the critical elements of these type barns on the other end of the hall, with the red swing as the transition back and forth.

 This piece is also about selective memory.

We romanticize the past, feel nostalgic about the back-breaking work and hardship endured, yet we rarely are able to appreciate this moment, right now, with the same attention.

There is a dichotomy in this exhibit, between the “Falling Down Barns” and the playful childhood memories that is intentional.

I have included a few older pieces, the torsos, that relate strongly from when I was living in New York City, cut off from the power I draw from my native Appalachia.

Please share the thoughts and memories that this exhibition brings to you in the book provided.

Catalog available.

From the Catalog "These Truths: the brutal tenderness of appalachia" 6/2009

Arte Povera could be applied to much of my current work, for I use rope, burdock and other discarded materials. But making art out of common materials comes naturally to me, perhaps from a tradition steeped in "making do" that is a way of life in Appalachia where both materials and means are scarce. "These Truths" that I embrace in my work cradle the vulnerable child that we all once were, and acknowledge the inevitable loss of innocence that occurs so naturally.

From Jan. 9 to Feb. 27, 2009, the exhibit at the Slemp Gallery at Mountain Empire Community College (MECC) in Big Stone Gap, Va., displayed 17 two-dimensional works. Also shown were actual farm hand tools and materials, such as tobacco knives and bailing twine, which have been influential in my artistic aesthetic. Titled "Sages and Sanctuaries," it included a number of large scale drawings of the weathered faces of people in my life, alongside the weathered textures of rural barns.

The Carroll Reece Museum on the campus of East Tennessee State University is hosting the second part of the exhibition from June 1 to Aug. 6, 2009, in which these same paintings and prints surround my three-dimensional works. Again, real objects from farm life on display in the gallery echo the ideas, as well as textures and colors, in my images.

The final exhibition will take place at The Arts Depot in Abingdon, Va. The Arts Depot's cavernous space allows me to create a full walk-through installation for the third and largest part of the exhibition from Aug. 13 to Sept. 26, 2009. There, slats of light mimic those seen from inside a barn. Actual tobacco and hay bales add unmistakable aromas to this site-specific work. Materials and textures begin to blur what is a finished work — and what is not.

My first experience creating art installations was in 1988. Because my ideas were beyond what a single object could convey, I needed to create a space in which sculpture as well as wall imagery could create a dialog. Then, starting in 1990 while in Manhattan, I created a series of installations incorporating sound tracks and kinetic sculptures. So with this background in constructing multimedia artwork within a particular space, and with deep appreciation to all those who have helped me, I offer this new body of work, this newest installation piece.








Artist Statement for  “Feminine Entwinement”, The People's Choice Award Winner, Art in Public Places 2008-9

This sculpture is made from part of a tugboat rope I collected while living in Manhattan, NY. The rope as a metaphor entered my work about 1987, when I was pondering the influence of Appalachia on my artistic aesthetic. It continues to convey much of what I think about; what is my “life-line”, what effect my “heritage binding” with this region has on me, what “ties me down” for better or worse, what keeps me together, and is it possible to always tell the difference? I look for ways to make sculpture more approachable. Using common materials in an uncommon way, and using a figurative reference help to accomplish that in this piece. I muse at the awesome strength of a tiny tug boat that keeps the great ships from running aground, as a reference to the tall strong confident feminine figure that has just tossed a scarf across her shoulders facing the wind.

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