Reflecting a wide variety of influences and styles, the Lyndon House Arts Center’s 43rd Juried Exhibition includes paintings, photographs, sculptures, textiles, etchings, mixed media and everything in between. Focused on identifying challenging, playful and boundary-pushing artwork, guest juror Wassan Al-Khudhairi, chief curator at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, selected 126 pieces from a record-breaking pool of 373 artists.
The exhibit is thoughtfully arranged, with many complementary works hanging in proximity to enhance color, mood or subject. Helen Kuykendall’s “Flying Home” portrait of Snoopy soaring through the air appears as if he might jump canvases and land in Cheryl Washburn’s peaceful oil painting of a landscape. James Preston’s simple yet boldly colored sunset echoes the color blocks of the neighboring hand-painted silk by René Shoemaker. Emily Tatum’s expressive clay figure feels at home next to Will Ingram’s awesome four-eyed character daydreaming whom it should ask to prom.
Funneling money back into the artist community, submission fees and donations from guilds are used towards 11 merit awards in a variety of fields. The Arts Center Choice Award, given to an emerging artist each year, comes with an opportunity to hold a solo exhibition in the Lounge Gallery. Last year’s recipient, Kristen Hyink, is a self-taught illustrator, sculptor and musician who relocated to Athens in 2015 from her hometown of Austin, TX.
Her black-and-white illustration series, “Modern Trauma,” is an audio-visual immersion story reflecting on the resiliency of nature, the process of self-discovery and the beauty of feminine strength. Often using a magnifying lens and a .15mm tipped pen, her lush environments are dense with detail, typically hosting between 15–30 layers of ink and often taking multiple months to complete. The series began following an illustration created in the wake of the Women’s March in Atlanta that depicted a woman riding an elk through a swamp with a white flag in tow. Subsequent scenes created a narrative backtracking her journey from becoming lost in the wilderness, overcoming her fears and transforming into a powerful warrior.
“I became very focused on the character of the woman riding the elk, and everything that she represented to me,” says Hyink. “She has antlers, something that I find highly symbolic. I see antlers as a crown, showing distinction and grace. I also see them as antennae, receiving and transmitting information, branching out of the head growing towards higher awareness. They represent the passage of time, with their seasonal regeneration a metaphor for personal cycles—starting soft and vulnerable, then scraped and bloodied into a beautiful weapon for survival, more formidable each year.”
Hoping to fully immerse visitors within her narrative, Hyink’s illustrations are accompanied by recordings that fuse sight and sound and intensify the emotional atmosphere of each environment. A self-proclaimed bedroom musician, she enjoys experimenting with various instruments—flute, guitar, dulcimer, ukulele, synthesizers, vocals—and while she was heavily involved in Austin’s music scene as a supporter, she considers this project to be her first serious attempt at pursuing her own music. The soundtrack In the Company of Beasts, which is available at moderntrauma.bandcamp.com, consists of audio collages created through Ableton with the guidance of music partner Chris Hrasky. Sounds of nature captured through a field recorder are beautifully integrated with the instrumentation, striking a delicate balance resembling the relationship between mankind and wilderness.
“I have always been captivated by cryptozoology, legends and monsters. I related to what I assumed were these misunderstood mythical beings, hiding away from civilization, watching it from the shadows,” says Hyink. “I’m an escapist, and fantasy has always been there to help me deal with the chaos of life. I often abscond into the wilderness, where I am reminded of what it is to be alive, truly. Nature is a sacred force that rules us all, and it is my greatest goal to live in harmony with it. I spend a lot of time outside, and a lot of time with animals. There are worlds within worlds within worlds everywhere you look in nature, and that to me is pure magic.”
In addition to the two aforementioned exhibitions, the Lyndon House’s Community Collections program, which presents quarterly displays in the lobby’s glass cases, is currently highlighting unique pins traded by members of the Enamelist Society. Collected by local jeweler Leslie Litt, a member of the group for over 14 years, the pins reflect interesting techniques like embossing, laser printing, crackle, stenciling, sgraffito and cloisonné.
Be sure not to miss a new, towering metal sculpture by Harold Rittenberry that has been installed outdoors directly across from the main entrance, with two smaller sculptures on the way. Welded specifically with the center’s history in mind, Rittenberry combines his favorite imagery—birds, mermaids, fauns, unicorns—with touching portraits of founders Ronnie and Nancy Lukasiewicz.
An opening reception for the Juried Exhibition will be held Thursday, Mar. 22 from 6–8 p.m., and artist talks will be held every Thursday in April at 6 p.m. It will be installed through Saturday, May 5, the same day a dedication ceremony will be held to celebrate Rittenberry’s sculptures. Litt’s collection will be up through May 19, and Hyink’s illustrations can be visited through June 2.
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