Joyce Lyon

Associate Member

My work focuses on the intersections of place and memory. In drawings, installations of image and text and artist’s books, I work from observation with emotion and an acute sense of the layering of time. I have made work about the known and unknown in my garden at night. In Approaches to the Garden I began with the interlock, literal and metaphoric, of light and dark, known and unknown. I hoped to infuse into this work what John Szarkowski said about Atget’s photographs of French formal gardens: that what the gardener leaves at sundown is never the same as what he returns to in the morning.

In the time after my mother’s death, I began walking in a wildlife refuge near my home. The area is a backwater and flood plain; trees fall and angle into the shallow water. There are many birds. In certain lights, the water and sky dissolve into each other. As the drawings began to come, I recognized from what I was thinking about as I worked and what I saw in the finished pieces that the series, Water, had become an act of valediction

In Conversations with Rzeszow, I engaged in a dialogue between the familiar and a place I knew initially only through fragmentary stories, silence and the efforts of my imagination. Rzeszow is a small city in southeastern Poland where my father grew up within an extensive Jewish community destroyed in World War II. As I child I was told little about the fate of my father’s family; at a certain point I felt the need to know more. I began with research and by asking my father, gently, insistently, to tell me his stories. In the summer of 1989 I spent six weeks in Poland.

The dialogue in the work involves images and text. There are several voices: my own, recounting and questioning my perceptions, and quotes from more knowledgeable sources – Primo Levi is one, who recount and question theirs. Some of the drawings are about places in Poland: the endless field of barrack chimneys I saw at Birkenau, a mass grave in the woods near Rzeszow. These became meditations on experiences I do not – and cannot – know at first hand. Others are places I knew more intimately: a Minneapolis bird sanctuary, a family summer home in New York. The metaphor and construct of place becomes a means to explore many kinds of knowing: one’s own direct experience and its limitations, what can be intuited, what it is possible to learn at a distance, and what cannot, finally, be understood.


  • 1970
    • MFA, Studio Arts, University of Minnesota, MN
  • 1964-66
    • Studies in Foundation and Printmaking, Pratt Institute, NY
  • 1964
    • BA, English, Barnard College, NY

Current position

Associate Professor, Drawing and Painting, Dept. of Art, University of Minnesota

Selected Grants and Awards

  • 2009
    • Imagine Fund Grant, in support of Simultaneous Translation. University of Minnesota
  • 2008
    • Scholarly Events Fund grant, with Susan Armington in support of Talking Suitcases, University of Minnesota
  • 2007
    • Scholarly Events Fund grant, with Alexis Kuhr in support of The Practice of Drawing: Selections from the Weisman Museum of Art and Joyce Lyon and Alexis Kuhr: Recent Drawings
  • 1996
    • Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowship; also 1990 and 1986
  • 1992
    • Minnesota Center for Book Arts/Jerome Foundation Book Arts Fellowship for Conversations with Rzeszow
  • 1991
    • Distinguished Teacher Award, College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota
  • 1989
    • Fulbright-Hayes Group Projects Abroad: Seminar on Contemporary Poland, Marie Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin and throughout Poland
  • 1985
    • WARM/LandMark Editions Project Grant (Jerome Foundation)
  • 1982
    • Residency Fellowship, Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY

Selected Solo and Two Person Exhibitions

  • 2011
    • Presence, with Carl Oltvedt, Groveland Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
    • Gardens for Winter, with Elizabeth Erickson and Sandra Menefee Taylor, Form+Content Gallery, Minneapolis
  • 2009
    • Otricoli Drawings, Traffic Zone Gallery, Minneapolis
  • 2008
    • Found in Translation: Considering What Can Be Learned Through Linguistic and Cultural Translation, Form+Content Gallery, Minneapolis
    • Recent Drawing: Joyce Lyon and Alexis Kuhr, Katherine Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota, concurrent with The Practice of Drawing: Selections from the Weisman Museum of Art, curated by Lyon and Kuhr
  • 2006
    • Twelve from WARM: The Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota, retrospective curated by Joanna Inglot, Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (catalogue)
  • 2004
    • Cupped, Groveland Gallery, Minneapolis
    • Residue of Silence, with Francisca de Beurges Rosenthal and Howard Oransky, ARC Gallery, Chicago; Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA (2003) and University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls (2002) (catalogue)
  • 2000
    • Water, Groveland Gallery, Minneapolis
    • Dialogue in Place: Joyce Lyon and Andrea Thoma, Bretton Hall College, University of Leeds, UK and Katherine Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota (catalogue)
  • 1998
    • Available Light, Groveland Gallery, Minneapolis
  • 1992-93
    • Conversations with Rzeszow: An Installation of image and Text, Phipps Art Center, Hudson, WI; Mankato State University, Mankato, MN; Kiehle Gallery, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN; St. Paul Academy, St. Paul, MN; Viterbo College, LaCrosse, WI (1997)

Selected Group Invitational and Juried Exhibits

  • 2010
    • Sacred Spaces – 10 Artists in 30 Days, Tychman Shapiro Gallery, Minneapolis
    • Women and Water Rights, Lucy Lippard, juror, Katherine Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota
    • Tikkun – Repair, Adath Jeshurun Congregation, Minnetonka; Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis; and House of Hope Presbyterian Church, St. Paul (a project of the Jewish Women Artists Circle)
  • 2009
    • Draw, Print, Fired, Inspired, Artmill Gallery, Plymouth, UK
  • 2004
    • Uncanny Visions: Contemporary Romantic Landscapes, curated by Patricia Briggs, Plains Art Museum, Fargo ND and Phipps Art Center, Hudson, WI (2002)
  • 1999
    • Absence/Presence: The Artistic Memory of the Holocaust and Genocide, national invitational curated by Stephen Feinstein, University of Minnesota (catalogue)
  • 1995-02
    • Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art About the Holocaust, national invitational curated by Stephen Feinstein, Paul Spencer and Lynette Henderson (catalogue), Minnesota Museum of American Art and sixteen sites including: Columbus Museum of Fine Arts (OH); Knoxville Museum of Art (TN); New Jersey State Museum, Trenton (NJ); Oklahoma City Art Museum (OK); Telfair Museum of Fine Arts, Savannah (GA); DeCordova Art Museum, Lincoln (MA); Tucson Art Museum (AZ); and Frye Museum, Seattle (WA)
  • 1986
    • House, Garden: The Spirit of Place, MAEP Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Selected Professional Activities

  • 2009
    • Co-curator with Susan Armington, Talking Suitcases: Gathering Life Stories in a Diverse World. Nash Gallery, University of Minnesota
  • 1999-‘06
    • A rtist’s lecture: Landscape and Identity for the Women’s Art Institute, Minneapolis College of Art and Design
  • 1989
    • The Subjective Response in Contemporary Landscape Painting, panel member, National Conference of the Women’s Caucus for Art, San Francisco

Selected Bibliography

Inglot, Joanna, “WARM: 12 Artists of the Women’s Art Registry of Minnesota: Joyce Lyon” in WARM: A Feminist Art Collective in Minnesota, Weisman Art Museum/University of Minnesota Press, 2007, 110-113 et alia

Lyon, Joyce, “Conversations with Rzeszow: An Artist’s Journey,” in Absence/Presence: Critical Essays on the Artistic Memory of the Holocaust, Stephen Feinstein, editor, Syracuse University Press, 2005

Dialogue in Place: Joyce Lyon and Andrea Thoma, exhibition catalogue with essays by Monica Ochtrup and Iain Biggs, University of Minnesota, 2000

Feinstein, Stephen, editor, Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art about the Holocaust, exhibition catalog with essays by Stephen Feinstein, Yehudit Shendar and Matthew Baigell, Lerner Publications, Minneapolis, MN, 1995

The 1993 Jerome Book Arts Exhibition: Julie Baugnet, Ricardo Bloch, Joyce Lyon, Robert Silberman and Judith A. Martin, exhibition catalog with essay by Nancy Princenthal, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, MN

Jewett, Robert and Sundberg, Ann, The Art of Critique, videotape exploring different concepts and methods of studio critique, made under a grant from Minneapolis Public Schools, 1990


Joyce Lyon