Acclaimed Nashville ceramist Sylvia Hyman began her artistic pursuits as a student at Buffalo State College in the 1930s, and has created decades’ worth of striking creations ever since.
During the last 15 years, she has focused on an artistic form known as “trompe l’oeil” (to fool the eye), including a variety of paper objects such as biblical scrolls, old maps, sheet music, and crossword puzzles that look too realistic to be made from porcelain clay. Hyman’s pieces can be found in many prominent collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Decorative Art in Prague, and the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.
Now art-lovers can view a wide range of Hyman’s work in the newly released book The Intriguing Vision of Sylvia Hyman: Trompe l’Oeil Ceramic Artist, edited by Janet Mansfield and published by Mansfield Press. Along with numerous full-color examples of Hyman’s exquisite ceramic pieces, the book provides insight into Hyman’s techniques, concepts, and intellectual and aesthetic approaches to her art. The 112-page book includes a bonus DVD, Eternal Wonder, a 23-minute documentary, and 431 images of her work.
“Things that convey information and stir the mind generally guide my selection of objects,” Hyman explained in an artistic statement. “Using the technique of screen-printing on wet clay, I like to think that my work perpetuates the ancient method of making marks on clay to convey messages, exchange ideas, relate thoughts, and to record the events of human history through signs, symbols, and the written word.
“I try to capture not only the appearance of things, but also their essential nature, giving equal weight to meaning and to visual impact.”
Hyman earned her bachelor’s degree in art education from Buffalo State in 1938 and taught for many years in the public schools and at the Peabody College for Teachers where she also earned a master’s degree in art education in 1963.