Alfred University News

Ceramic Art Museum to open exhibits of Reuben Nakian, Ashley Lyon sculpture

The Alfred Ceramic Art Museum will open two new exhibitions Thursday, Sept. 21: "Reuben Nakian: The Impassioned Gesture" and "Ashley Lyon: Super Real." An opening reception at the Museum for both exhibitions will be held Sept. 21 from 5 to 7 pm. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration.

Reuben Nakian (1897-1986) has been described by the New York Times as “one of the most distinguished American sculptors of the 20th Century.” Although he worked in several media, he is best known for his large-scale sculptures in bronze, but his brilliant, less recognized work in ceramic is the focus of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum’s exhibition, which is the first major exhibition to concentrate on Nakian’s ceramics.

 Nakian was born in Queens, NY, to Armenian immigrant parents. As a young man he showed an unusual talent for drawing and was encouraged to pursue that talent by his parents.  At the age of 12, he discovered New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and, around that time, also acquired a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythology. Greek myth consequently became a touch stone for him. He graduated from high school at the age of 15 and took a job in New York determined to find his way to being a professional artist.

 While Ashley Lyon was born nearly 90 years after Nakian, ACAM Director Wayne Higby says the Museum’s exhibit of both Nakian’s and Lyon’s art provides a unique perspective into the work of two major artists of different generations. “Reuben Nakian was one of the most recognized sculptors of the 20th century,” Higby says. “Ashley Lyon is currently one of the most significant, emerging masters of ceramic sculpture. Her work in fired and unfired clay is a revelation.”

 Lyon’s words “Super Real,” used in the title of exhibition, are carefully chosen and revealing, Higby explains. “Real is one thing: actual, nonfictional, factual. Then add the word ‘super’: Super Actual, Super Nonfictional, Super Factual.”

 Regarding her current work, Lyon offers her own observation: “Turning my attention to motherhood’s rich and complex territory of changes that intertwine the psychological and physiological, my recent work seeks to reveal the simultaneity of contradictory emotions and thoughts inherent in becoming a mother. I hope to visually illuminate the complexity of the mother experience, breathtaking, beautiful, confusing, and grueling all at once.”

 Reuben Nakian: The Impassioned Gesture and Ashley Lyon: Super Real were both curated by Higby and the Museum’s guest curator, Anne Currier. A gallery talk with the curators, Reuben Nakian: The Impassioned Gesture, will be held on Oct. 19, 4:30 – 5:30pm at the Museum.

 Ashley Lyon will give a talk about her work on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 4:30pm, in Nevins Theater on the Alfred University campus and a gallery talk at the Museum the following day at 4:30pm. The Museum’s regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.  



 Alfred Ceramic Art Museum at Alfred University

1 Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802