MFA - UW Madison 2007
MA - UW Madison 2005
Teacher Certification - UW 1989
BFA Alfred University 1982

Philip Lyons • Artist Statement, 9/2/07

As an art facilitator for teenagers in Madison, Wisconsin I am continually involved in the creative brainstorming process with talented young artists. This modus, and the fertile environment from which it comes has offered me numerous directions to go with my own work. While in the past two years I’ve worked on multiple bodies of work concurrently, the various series of work inform or cross pollinate each other. This work presents essentially two of those series: figures and faces. Most of my work attempts to address several different directions of thought simultaneously. One of the most important and overriding themes I’ve explored since the 1990’s has been the relationship between the human female form and the iconic shape of the classical ceramic vase. I also more recently have been trying to explore the the natural textural character of clay in my work. This is a new direction for me as my ceramic roots are in the cleanly tooled, precise pottery forms of the Bauhaus tradition. Distressed finishes and smoke fired ceramics have also been an interest for me as they both have a character to them that conveys the alluring aesthetic of chance, and a sense of history. Some of these pieces are carefully conceived while others have relied more on my creative intuition - seeking out interesting contrasts and the playful juxtaposition of symbols and ideas. This process, and the pieces that have resulted from it, rose out of my desire to make work that has a stronger narrative content. I’ve come to feel that the art I enjoy most affects you with it’s beauty, in a visceral way, but also engages the viewer in an extended, growing dialogue that can endure and grow through multiple viewings. Art that is accessible, while not revealing all of it’s self right away, has the potential to draw the viewer into a journey of continual discovery, with multiple meanings and a layered narrative.
Many of the figurative pieces offer themes of woman as vessel, as fertility figure, and of parenting in general. The House of Love series deals with the complex issues of parenting and the spousal relationship that is family. The MATRON series celebrates women as strong, yet exposed, highly complex beings. I enjoy the contrast of the sensual flowing form with the rough, textured, industrial surface. Some women are weathered, worn, and road hardened, but still beautiful! In these figurative sculptures the human female form, offers many symbolic interpretative possibilities. Every impression and nook offers symbolic meaning, and when juxtaposed with the countless other images, create a medley of layered narratives. This conceptual layering offers the viewer not only a bounty of inroads into understanding the art, but the opportunity to revisit the work and find new discoveries and connections. The Wall Head series initially grew out of my inability to find clear meaning in several life events, including the death of my father and a close friend. They are almost dreamlike in that they attempt to express that which is inherently inexpressible. Connections are often disparate at best with images fading in and out, reflecting the absurd and random nature of thought and our modern world. The growing nature of my inability to understand the world today, and my attempt to remain centered amidst the turmoil that is life is reflected in the contrast of the serene physical state, with the lively cerebral activity. I invite you to view this work and read between the lines - look for the inner meanings, the tongue in cheek, the humour and the satire.

Philip Lyons