By Lindsey Davis
Boston, MA – Susan Lyman’s new show “Sculpture in Wood” stars 28 exotic pieces of woodwork, all lined up across the wall at eyesight level. Taller ones occupy the inner gallery space, and although only a few of them have defined body parts, the display as a whole looks like a zoo of fairytale creatures, made of wood and frozen in time.
Most of these little beings contain amorphic shapes that bubble and connect with straighter parts, each its own little paradoxical combination of round and straight, smooth and rough. The taller standing pieces contain even more life, rising from the platform with a sense of stretch and reach that mimics how most of us get out of bed in the morning.
“Seduction” is made of cedar, birch, poplar and beech, and features two long skinny necks emerging from a smooth, polished trunk. At the tops of these necks sit two reaching ovals, their gesture so full of expression that they must be heads. Two innocent, curious birds that are bigger than most, their heads nearly entwined as they exist in their own space, only hinting that they’re aware of us as the viewer.
Some of the pieces come in a more traditional form. The show contains six two-dimensional paintings completed upon wood paneling that showcase surreal and colorful landscapes and figures. Lyman has long been inspired by the Cape Cod landscapes, and she uses these traditional paintings to set the scene for the sculptures, representing the places where she gathered the weathered pieces of wood that eventually became this collection of work.
Lyman has been finding and transforming these battered fragments of nature since 1984, resulting in decades of experience in this very specific kind of craftsmanship and wood renovation. Lyman spends her days sharing this experience teaching sculpture at Providence College, and although this is her first solo show at Boston Sculptors Gallery, her work has been featured in a number of other exhibits and publications.
(Susan Lyman’s “Sculpture in Wood” exhibition continues through March 3 at Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Avenue, Boston. The gallery will be open for February and March First Fridays activities from 5-8 p.m.; a reception will be held on Saturday, February 9 from 3-6 p.m. with an artist talk at 4 p.m. For more information, call 617-482-7781.)