Susan Lyman

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Susan Lyman | About

I have lived on the Outer Cape since 1981, arriving in Provincetown for a residency fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center. I made this part of the world my home, a spare but expansive place where sky meets water meets sand meets woods, what is left of them. In 1984, I started building sculptures with a truckload of bittersweet, gathered with permission from an overgrown woods behind the house of Wellfleet shell fisherman Joe Francis. By then drawing had become a regular studio activity, both feeding the sculptural ideas and as a studio activity unto itself. I am still scavenging fallen and found materials from the woods, beach, and local tree dumps, choosing fragments and shapes that I carve, assemble, deconstruct, and paint into figural "drawings" in space.

Even retired balsam Christmas trees are stripped of their branches, dried and repurposed into sculpture. I work from this chaotic pile of shapes in the studio, intuitively juxtaposing the fragments into sensuous hybrid relationships, often punctuated with color. Trunks and sections of saplings massed together assume the roles of heads or torsos; while branches, saplings, and roots posture as arms or legs. Laminated carved shapes in basswood and cedar add an unexpected juxtaposition to the wood found in its natural state. Even older sculptures are fair game – with a saw, grinder, mallet and gouge, I swiftly dissect, reconsider, and animate them into new forms.

For years I have had a penchant for strange fruits and vegetables, as well as for photographs and illustrations of nature's botanical oddities, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. These collected images recently found their way into a series of collages, which in turn, became precursors to the paintings. I layer drawn image upon image, nudging the paintings into surreal landscapes whose unlikely co-inhabitants and natural forms are the stuff of my sculpture. -- Susan Lyman

Boston Sculptors Gallery

Susan Lyman is represented by Boston Sculptors Gallery, where her third solo exhibition, "Sculpture in the Unmaking", is on view March 1-April 2, 2017.

Scullpture in nthe Unmaking by Susan Lyman at Boston Sculptors Gallery

Susan Lyman is a sculptor and painter who has lived year-round in Provincetown since 1981 when she was awarded a Visual Arts Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center. She is also the recipient of grants from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the Artists' Foundation of Boston.

Lyman has exhibited her work in numerous solo and group exhibitions for over 35 years in the United States, Japan, and New Zealand. Her work is held in corporate and museum collections including Champion International Paper, Saks Fifth Avenue, Arkansas Art Center and Museum, Nelson Fine Art Museum in Tempe, AZ, and Provincetown Art Association and Museum. Lyman's work was recently included in "Branching Out: Trees as Art" at Peabody Essex Museum, and "Working Women: 36 Contemporary Women Artists" at Colby-Sawyer College. She is represented by Boston Sculptors Gallery, where her third solo exhibition, "Sculpture in the Unmaking", is on view March 1-April 2, 2017.
Lyman has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, Massachusetts College of Art, Hamilton College, Fine Arts Work Center, Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, and University of Michigan School of Art, where she received her BFA and MFA.

Her botanical illustrations are featured in the 2016 W.W. Norton & Co. publication, Holistic Health for Adolescents by Dr. Nada Milosavljevic.

Sculpture by Provincetown artist Susan Lyman

Susan Lyman, Cradle

Provincetown sculptor Susan Lyman working in her studio.

In 2008 I stumbled upon a stand of 500-year-old English oak pollards in Cranbourne Chase, a wild wood in Windsor Castle's Great Park. The venerable trees appeared to hold contorted and convoluted bodies trapped within. This encounter with the body in nature fueled my longtime fascination with the woodland landscape.

"There is something in the nature of nature, in its presentness, its seeming transcience, its creative ferment and hidden potential, that corresponds very closely with the wild, or green (hu)man, in our psyches…." (The Tree, by John Fowles)

Susan Lyman resume (pdf)