Ashley Lyon: Super Real
Curated by Wayne Higby and Anne Currier
Opening Reception: September 21, 2023 5pm
September 21 - December 30, 2023
Ashley Lyon’s words “Super Real” used in the title of the exhibition are carefully chosen and revealing. Real is one thing: Actual, Nonfictional, Factual. Then add the word super: Super Actual, Super Nonfictional, Super Factual. Is this then the real beyond the real?
The following is an excerpt from the essay Ashley Lyon: New Territory by Mary Drach McInnes.
"Ashley Lyon’s current work draws on her recent parenthood to create unexpected narratives. She highlights aspects of maternal life--some celebrated, some brutal—that she often combines in a single sculpture. She explains,
"Turning my attention to motherhood’s rich and complex territory of changes that intertwine the psychological and physiological, my recent work seeks to reveal the simultaneity of contradictory emotions and thoughts inherent in the birth of a mother. I hope to visually illuminate the complexity of the mother experience, breathtaking, beautiful, confusing, and grueling all at once.
In pursuing this inquiry, Lyon is part of a growing number of women artists and writers who address the contradictions of maternity. Her figurative sculpture offers us complex narratives of contemporary motherhood by using the conventions of realism, then upending them through the elements of scale and fragmentation. Through her persistent and passionate engagement—the need to describe her child’s physical presence and her own emotional reality, Ashley Lyon creates work that delights and provokes us."
Ashley Lyon received an MFA in Sculpture + Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011 and a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Washington in 2006. Lyon has been awarded residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, the European Ceramic WorkCentre and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. She is a 2023 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Craft/Sculpture from The New York Foundation for the Arts and an Elizabeth Greenshields Grant recipient (2011 and 2014). She is currently an Associate Professor of Art at New Jersey City University and lives in Newburgh, NY.
"Ashley Lyon is a gifted artist and a highly skilled sculptor. Her ability to handle the materials and processes of ceramics is unquestionably impressive. However, what I admire most is her artistic integrity. Ashley Lyon’s exceptional artistic skills are rooted in a rare ability to omit disrupting values, trends, and the latest genres of artistic fashion. In the midst of inevitable artistic doubt, she does not compromise authentic vision. With refreshing candor, she reveals wise, compelling insight into the veracity of life. Her sculpture is a vivid engagement with experiential truth that can only be accessed through art."
- Wayne Higby
"The exhibition, Ashley Lyon: Super Real, offers a selection of Lyon’s sculptures that portray the artist’s dual identities as woman and mother, envisioned through an autobiographical lens.
For Ashley Lyon, ceramic materials and construction techniques are tantamount to meaning and metaphor. Her large sculptures incorporate elements of fabrication, segmentation, and scale traditionally associated with architectural terracotta units, whose individual characteristics are fully revealed when dislodged and isolated from a building’s façade. An encounter with one of Lyon’s large sculptures is inescapably palpable. Conversely, Lyon’s smaller sculptures are depictions of personal objects that simulate human proportions and activity. Their non-reflective, monochromatic surfaces exude a subliminal softness that absorbs our gaze and induces memories of touch.
Ashley Lyon is irrefutably omnipresent in this exhibition. With impressive tenacity, she has negotiated materials and engineering to create sculptures that personify her vision and openly invite us into their domains."
- Anne Currier
Anne Currier is an internationally recognized ceramic sculptor and professor emerita of Alfred University. She taught at the New York State College of Ceramics, School of Art and Design at Alfred University from 1985 until her retirement in 2016. Her website can be visited at annecurrierceramics.com.
Wayne Higby is the current director and principal curator of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum and a professor of ceramic art at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University since 1973. He is the creator of EarthCloud, which can be viewed in the Miller Performing Arts Building and Miller Theater on the Alfred University campus. A retrospective Infinite Place: The Ceramic Art of Wayne Higby was held at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. It was accompanied by a book of the same title published by Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, Germany.
Mary Drach McInnes holds a Ph.D. in Art History and is a Professor of Art History at the New York State College of Ceramics, School of Art and Design at Alfred University focusing on sculpture. Recently, she contributed to the book, 2023, Willian Underhill: Casting a Legacy, which tracks the unique career of metal/vessel sculptor William Underhill published by Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, Germany. Additionally, McInnes has served as a consultant to the Nanette Laitman documentation project for the Archives of American Art. Her essay on Ashley Lyon’s work will be published by the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum in the up-coming catalogue documenting Ashly Lyon’s exhibition Super Real. Mary Drach McInnes website can be visited at marymcinnes.com.