Artist invites the community to celebrate diverse human experiences.
Whether you come to see her paintings, mixed media works or just to see the performance artists joining her, Ocala artist Amanda Lyon hopes you come away from her exhibition, “Temple,” having felt a connection.
“A lot of what I’d like people to take away from this show is that we don’t have to look at other people as outsiders,” Lyon said. “We can all respect each other’s own human experiences, even if they’re coming from different places.”
“Temple” is Lyon’s first solo show and the culmination of her two-year residency at the Magnolia Art Xchange (MAX). She describes it as “exploring topics of gender dynamics and expectations within our society as well as LGBTQ+ experience” and also incorporating elements of Catholicism, reflecting her own upbringing.
“A lot of what I’m hoping to do through this show is celebrate aspects of both Christian art history as well as revering these stories of human experience in what is a collaborative way as opposed to a dividing way,” she said. “I would like to think in 2023 there are a lot more Christian spaces that are becoming a lot more accepting of LGBTQ+ ideas and experiences.”
The artist said that after she “kind of fell away from Catholicism” as an adult, she found a new respect for religious art when she visited the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her family in 2021.
“I was surprised by how connected I felt to the artwork,” she said, adding that seeing the basilica sparked the idea to merge her own experiences with both the church and the LGBTQ+ community.
Lyon described her mixed media work “Reverence” as “modeled after the relic boxes you see in the basement areas of Catholic churches.” Its intricate details represent traditional gender roles for boys and girls.
“A lot of what I’m trying to create in this show is a safe space to revere these stories of what is essentially human experience but isn’t always viewed as human experience,” she said.
Lyon’s new series of 24 paintings, titled “Metamorphosis,” portrays the life cycle of the butterfly, which she says is beautiful but can come with complications.
“A lot of this is tied to the beauty of self-exploration and acceptance,” she said. “This series is kind of like a dichotomy between that joy of expression as well as that fear of never making it there.”
Butterflies are a subject the artist knows well. While pursuing her bachelor of arts in studio art degree at the University of Central Florida, Lyon worked at the Lukas Nursery & Butterfly Encounter in Oviedo. Her mixed media work “Chrysalis” was recently on display at Ocala City Hall in the City of Ocala 2023 Student and Emerging Artist Exhibition.
“When I moved to Ocala, I got really involved with the Oddities Market, and this idea of preserving butterflies in death versus the experience I have working with them in life was really fascinating,” she said. “That was the start of this idea of using the butterfly as an icon through its lifecycle and what inspired a lot of the concepts for this show.”
“Temple” will feature five local performance artists from Brick City Glam, who choreographed their own works to accompany Lyon’s art and are sponsored by Art Army Ocala.
“It’s going to be super exciting,” she said of the dancing, singing and acrobatic performance pieces inspired by the themes showcased in her artworks.
Lyon, whose next endeavor is pursuing a master’s degree in studio art, said a sponsorship by the Marion Cultural Alliance allowed her to create the artworks featured in “Temple” in the MAX studios.
“Temple” will be open one night only, Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m. at Magnolia Art Xchange, 531 NE First Ave. For more information, follow Lyon on Instagram @i.am.peepo or follow MAX on Facebook at FB.com/maxocala.