Emma is our featured artist this month and one of the newest studio members at FSC. Originally sharing her artwork through theatre and dance, she pivoted into the visual art realm at the start of the pandemic.
Between her paintings, resin pieces, and fashion work, she has found the opportunity to become a self-taught Renaissance woman. Her piece "Curves" gained immediate attention at FSC's 24" x 24" Show and sold at its debut, and her Mermaids series has been in cafés and restaurants across Chicago and Indianapolis, her hometown.
She will host "Resin and Riesling", a workshop on making resin coasters, on June 4th, and a solo show at the beginning of October complete with performances.
INTERVIEW WITH EMMA LYONS
•What is one of your first memories of creating a piece of artwork?
I remember dipping marbles in different paint colors and rolling them over paper placed in a baking pan (with high walls to mercifully keep the marbles from going everywhere). I would watch the trails of blue and yellow come to an intersection of green, then add new colors with each marble until they faded into paint mud and my three-year-old self discovered what "overboard" meant.
•Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion for art?
During the pandemic quarantine, honestly. My history in sharing my art has always been extroverted: dance, theatre, event planning. While I always kept up with visual art, it wasn't until I had time on my hands and no community to spend it with that I learned to lean into my own company and thrive with what I could create by myself. The world is still opening up, and while it is, this is the art I can give to it now.
•When did you move to Chicago and what brought you here?
I've been here since 2010, so this is home for me. I moved from Indianapolis with a nursing degree and a passion for all things theatre and art. The theatre and art won out.
•What influenced you to create your "Mermaids" series?
It began with a MerMay art challenge created by Tom Bancroft, one of my favorite Disney animators. I realized I was having such fun allowing each mermaid to become a full character with a story all her own that I realized I wanted to take my time with each prompt. By the last few mermaids, though, I was finishing one per day anyway because it was the height of quarantine and I'd had all the details planned out!
•How is working on fashion projects different from your work on canvas?
Canvases are a wonderful addition to any space. Maybe they bring you peace, or start a conversation. But you can't take canvases everywhere you go. Well, you could, but they probably wouldn't get the attention you're aiming for.
When I put on one of my flowing Art Robes, I am making a statement of "This is something I'm into, and I'm comfortable with myself, and you are welcome here." I find being bold, from fashion to initiating new friendships, is an easy way to color life with inspiration.
•What inspired you to join FSC and how did it feel to get your first sale?
My friend Kristin Wenc, who is also a studio artist at FSC, invited me to the opening night of the Chicago show. I had never been, but my husband and I decided we needed a date night. Each kind artist I met, learning about FSC's jazz nights and monthly shows, and seeing the studio that became mine solidified my heart for this artist collective. In one night, I was introduced and committed to FSC. It's a community easy to be committed to.
•What obstacles, if any, has the pandemic presented to your work?
The pandemic did a lot of things. It made it possible for me to stop spinning my wheels for little things. It also reminded me of how very little I actually have control over. So when the cafés my work was displayed in had lower traffic and didn't sell as much, I had to remind myself-- and still do!-- to let go of the false reality where I have control over anything but myself.
•Are there moments when you question your career?
I'm happy doing this. If others enjoy my work and want to support me, I'm honored. But I don't rely on the capitalistic measurements of success to tell me I'm where I need to be. I know I am.
•As an artist what do you hang on to for hope and solace as the world starts to reopen again?
I HOPE FOR ALL THE HUGS. And to wear red lipstick again.
I'd love to say something profound here about the pain and loss we have experienced, but I feel it's mostly been said.
So can I just say I see you? You're trying, maybe mourning, probably adapting. AGAIN. So I'm letting you know this now: I see you. And I am inspired by you.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EMMA AND VIEW HER ART HERE.