Huntsville, Ala – In the third presentation of a new exhibition series focused on contemporary artists whose work is linked by subject matter and sensibility, the Huntsville Museum of Art will bring together Diane Fox and Beauvais Lyons. The works of these distinctive regional artists play off of mankind’s historical desire to classify and catalogue the natural world. The exhibition will open June 27 and be on view in the Grisham Gallery through September 27, 2015.
The Museum will kick-off the exhibit’s opening with a Gallery Walk with both artists on Sunday, June 28, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about the connections in the artists’ works. Following the program, the Huntsville Museum of Art Docents will host a reception. The event is free for members and included in general admission for non-members.
In a manner that is simultaneously appealing and repellent, Fox’s photographs document aging displays of animal specimens from natural history Museums across the U.S. and Europe. Lyons, her husband, creates prints and mixed-media installations that intentionally mix fact with fiction to examine established belief systems through the lens of parody.
“Fox and Lyons create art that is both dramatic and subtle,” Director of Curatorial Affairs Peter Baldaia said. “In the work of both, what appears as truth upon first glance is called into question after sustained viewing.”
A senior lecturer in the College of Architecture and Design at the University of Tennessee (UT), Fox received her Master of Fine Arts from UT and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Middle Tennessee State University. Since 1998, she has taught photography and graphic design courses at UT. In her ongoing UnNatural History series, Fox often contrasts the reflections of museum display cases with the creatures housed within, underscoring our physical and spiritual removal form these former inhabitants of the animal
kingdom. These displays create a framed moment of nature, frozen in time, in which the dead animals appear to breathe life. A related series of History Portraits presents individual specimens at intimate close range, echoing the conventions of traditional portraiture.
“These poignant, yet confrontational, images emphasize the disconnect between artifice and truth, occupying a curious, uncomfortable zone between animation and death,” Baldaia said.
Lyons is an art professor at UT, where he has taught printmaking since 1985. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Arizona State University and his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For three decades, Lyons has combined creative expression with critical commentary to produce works that parody academic systems of thought. In his mock-documentary project The Association for Creative Zoology, he presents a tongue-in-cheek response to the ongoing debate over Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Through prints, photographs, video, models, and other materials, the installation fleshes out the fictitious theory of zoomorphic juncture, which claims that new animal species resulted from absurd combinations of separate species, created divinely.
“In confusing the boundaries between art and science, the imaginary and the real,” Baldaia said, “Lyons’ art challenges the ways that our beliefs about the world are formed.”
A 45-minute, docent-led tour for Connections: Diane Fox / Beauvais Lyons is scheduled for Sunday, September 27, at 2 p.m. Public tours are free for members and included in general admission for non-members.
Exhibition support was provided by The Alabama State Council on the Arts, Altherr Howard Design, and The Huntsville Museum of Art Guild.
The Museum’s hours are: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed to the public on Mondays and some major holidays. Admission is $10 for adult, non-members; $8 for active military, teachers, and seniors (60+) with a valid ID; $5 for children age 6 and up and students; and $7 per person for groups of 10 or more. Admission after 5 p.m. Thursdays is only $5, as part of the $5 After Five program. Museum members and children 5 and under are admitted FREE.