Rose Mary Gorman: (615) 744-3332, ”
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Renowned Nashville Clay Artist’s Work
Features Trompe l’Oeil Sculptures

NASHVILLE, TENN.—(June 4, 2007)—The Frist Center for the Visual Arts will open the exhibition Sylvia Hyman: Fictional Clay Friday, June 22, 2007 in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery and Education Gallery. Featuring 22 meticulously crafted trompe l’oeil sculptures created over the last eight years, the exhibition will coincide with the renowned clay artist’s 90th birthday. Sylvia Hyman: Fictional Clay continues through October 7, 2007 and is organized by the Frist Center.

After decades of working with clay in traditional ways, Sylvia Hyman ventured in a new direction almost 15 years ago to a form of sculpture known as trompe l’oeil, or “to deceive the eye.” In her sculpture, Hyman translates everyday objects that reflect her own interests and personal history—letters, maps, scrolls of sheet music, and books—into stoneware and porcelain, and often screenprints these elements with text, symbols or images. She places her clay objects in ceramic containers, which simulate the appearance of such things as berry baskets, cardboard and wooden boxes, even a faux alligator-skin violin case. The resulting sculptures inspire both delight and a sense of disorientation for viewers as they realize each object is created entirely with clay.

“Sylvia Hyman works within a tradition of ceramists who employ the malleability of clay to make visual ‘twins’ of everyday objects. While enjoying her virtuosic transformation of images and materials, Hyman’s many admirers are also intrigued by the balance she strikes between personal iconography and formal inventiveness,” says Mark Scala, chief curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. “Her works subtly celebrate the beauty of everyday existence.”

Hyman’s internationally renowned work was the subject of a recent documentary film, Sylvia Hyman: Eternal Wonder, which premiered at the Nashville Film Festival in April 2007. The 23-minute film, produced and directed by Curt Hahn, CEO of Film House, provides an in-depth look at the artist’s body of work. An abbreviated version of Eternal Wonder will be featured in the Frist Center’s exhibition.

Born in 1917 in Buffalo, NY, Sylvia Hyman spent more than 30 years as an art teacher. In the early 1970s she turned her focus entirely to creating art. In 1995 she was given a retrospective exhibition at the Tennessee State Museum, which featured 164 works created over a 30-year period. Following this exhibition, Hyman concentrated on the creation of the trompe l’oeil works for which she is internationally known.

Hyman’s work is represented in many permanent collections around the world, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery (Washington, D.C.); Museum of Decorative Arts (Prague, Czech Republic); Saga Prefecture Museum (Saga, Japan); and the Tennessee State Museum (Nashville, TN). She is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics and is a founder and honorary lifetime member of the Tennessee Association of Craft Artists (TACA). Her numerous awards include the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Craft Arts from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C., 1993; and the Tennessee Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, 1994.


The 2007 Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery Exhibition Sponsor is Welling LaGrone and Morgan Keegan.

Related Programs

Thursday, July 19 Artist’s Perspective: Sylvia Hyman
6:30 p.m.
Frist Center Auditorium

Artist Sylvia Hyman and moderator Susan Knowles discuss the artist’s career longevity and her creative practices. Prior to the discussion, there will be a screening of Sylvia Hyman: Eternal Wonder, a 23-minute documentary by director Curt Hahn, CEO
of Film House.

Friday, August 17 ARTini
7:00 pm
Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery
Included with gallery admission

Julie Roberts, manager of public programs at the Frist Center, will lead a fun, informal conversation about Sylvia Hyman: Fictional Clay. Complete the evening with music in the Grand Lobby, martinis at the cash bar, and visiting with friends.

About the Frist Center
The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., is an art exhibition center dedicated to presenting the finest visual art from local, regional, U.S. and international sources in a program of changing exhibitions. The Frist Center’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features over 30 interactive stations relating to Frist Center exhibitions. Gallery admission to the Frist Center is free for visitors 18 and under and to Frist Center members. Frist Center admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and military, and $6.50 for college students with ID. Thursday evenings, 5:00 – 9:00 p.m., admission is free for college students with a valid college ID. Discounts are offered for groups of 10 or more with advance reservation by calling (615) 744-3246. The Frist Center is open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the Café opening at noon. Additional information is available by calling (615) 244-3340 or by visiting our Web site at

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