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Volume 26, Number 6 — June 2019

Art in Public Places: People's Choice Award

Advanced art students from Vance Middle School in Bristol, Tenn. discuss Val Lyle's
Advanced art students from Vance Middle School in Bristol, Tenn. discuss Val Lyle's "Feminine Entwinement," which won the People's Choice award in the Art in Public Places outdoor sculpture exhibition in downtown Bristol, TN/VA. The tour was led by Dr. Marvin Tadlock, professor of art at Virginia Intermont College, whose sculpture "Coca-Cola" won last year's competition in Bristol. For walking tour information, interested teachers or groups may call 423-612-9447 or email
Additional photos below »

October 28, 2008

Arts Alliance Mountain Empire (AAME) is pleased to announce that the People's Choice award winner for Bristol's 2008-2009 outdoor sculpture competition is Feminine Entwinement by Val Lyle of Bristol, Tenn.

Ten sculptures were installed in August for a one-year exhibit as part of the third annual Art in Public Places (AiPP) project in downtown Bristol, TN/VA. Lyle's award-winning sculpture is located near the Country Music Mural at The Downtown Center in Bristol, Tenn.

Lyle says, "I find it hard to express my joy at being included in this exhibition. It has been fun to watch people posing with the rope figure, draping their arms around it to have their pictures taken with it. While I wouldn't encourage kids to climb it, public sculpture should still be able to take that kind of public 'interactive exploration' and I anticipated that when I built it."

Lyle's "Feminine Entwinement" sculpture is made from tugboat rope she collected while living in New York City. She explains, "The rope as a metaphor entered my work about 1987, when I was pondering the influence of Appalachia on my artistic aesthetic. It continues to convey much of what I think about: what is my 'life-line,' what effect my 'heritage binding' with this region has on me, what 'ties me down' for better or worse, what keeps me together, and is it possible to always tell the difference?"

She continues, "I look for ways to make sculpture more approachable, using common materials in an uncommon way; and using a figurative reference helps to accomplish that in this piece. I muse at the awesome strength of a tiny tugboat that keeps the great ships from running aground, as a reference to the tall, strong, confident, feminine figure that has just tossed a scarf across her shoulders facing the wind."

Born in Johnson City, Tenn., Lyle grew up in Knoxville, Tenn. She spent much of her adult life in the cities of Honolulu, Phoenix, and Sarasota, Fla. where she earned her BFA in sculpture at the Ringling School of Art and Design, and more recently New York City, where she credits much of her artistic development.

When given the opportunity to move back to East Tennessee, Lyle took it. "I'm one of the lucky ones. I've been able to go see some of the world, develop a deep appreciation for our unique area, and return to enjoy living in it."

Lyle earned her MFA while maintaining the family home place in Bristol. She has exhibited extensively and continues to teach art courses and workshops. You can find out more at

TO READ what others are saying about Van Lyle's award-winning piece, search for "Val Lyle" on our website. For more information about Bristol's Art in Public Places project, visit

What Others Are Saying to the 'People's Choice' Award Winner...

Val Lyle: "I love to make sculpture more approachable, using common materials in an uncommon way."