November 25, 2016 through January 15, 2017
The Mary G. Hardin Center for the Arts presents The Light Fantastic: paintings on glass by John Lyon Paul. Filling the large Kathy Chan Gallery, these radiant paintings act like lenses into mysterious environments which the viewer can explore, drawn and released by the pulse of color and energy of line. Within these paintings the word “abstraction” gives way to “freedom” as we surround ourselves with a vibration that is almost musical.
John Lyon Paul was born 1943 in Ossining, NY, and lives near Ithaca in the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York. Music was his first creative outlet, and he has noted, “there is a strong musical quality to my paintings that are in part ‘composed’ with the vibrations of color.” Paul went on to study at Hamilton College, receiving a BA in English Literature from in 1965.
Two of Paul’s early experiences immersed him in the political struggles of the 1960s, initiating a social awareness that has informed his art. In 1964, Paul participated in the civil rights movement, volunteering with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for Mississippi Freedom Summer where he helped black citizens who were being systematically denied their rights, register to vote. In 1965 he took a stand as a conscientious objector and served his Alternative Service at the Cornell University Libraries.
In the early 1970s, Paul was working on a play on one of the Georgia Sea Islands, and had an epiphany that he no longer was a writer, but was to be an artist instead. Over the next months he began meditating and making artworks. He started with carving figurative sculptures in wood. In 1982, Paul created the sculpture Vow of Silence, and did not speak for the seven months he worked on it. Over the years his sculptures have taken on abstract form in new materials. Paul has created work in range of modes: prayer wheels, reliefs, and freestanding sculptures. His sculptural work suggests a confrontation with spiritual yearning and human mortality, the growth of organic forms, and moments of creation. His desire to “transform violence into compassion and heal the wounds of the nuclear age” manifested itself in the large interactive sculptures, Many Thousands Gone in 2003 and Nagasaki Prayerwheel in 2009.
Paul has written that in the late 1980s he had a “powerful visionary dream in which I unscrewed the top of a mason jar, releasing a swarm of brilliantly colored butterflies.” The next day he began painting, and since then has “trusted the process” of creating art with an intuitive approach. As a self-taught artist, Paul has learned new techniques with each phase of his work. His concept of art as an aid to healing and inner growth has been a constant focus.
From 1996-2001, Paul created Pilgrimage, a series of over 100 paintings that unfolds in a visual language of organic and geometric forms. Subsequent series Oracle, Mirage, and Templates for Another Life lead to hisMeditation Shawls, 2003-9, with each shawl/painting a portal for the viewer to enter meditation and his or her own inner journey. In 2009 Paul began the series Shrouds for Children, with each painting suggesting a shroud for a particular child whose death was the result of a large, human-caused event.
In 2010 Paul began his Studies on Mylar and Glass. There are currently there are over 50 works in this ongoing series. Painted on the reverse side of transparent sheets, these pieces range from imaginative landscapes to abstract compositions. They all share strong color juxtapositions, and a luminous, painterly immediacy.
Paul’s ’s work has been exhibited at the Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY, Wells College, Aurora, NY, and in many galleries throughout the U.S. In 2010 he was the Featured Artist of the “Conflict and Visual Culture Project” at the Solomon Asch Center, Bryn Mawr, PA and in 2011 he was selected for the NYFA MARK professional artist program.
This exhibition is organized through Katharine T. Carter and Associates.