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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Commissioned art by Val Lyle at SWHEC

"Barn Rhythms" by Val Lyle is located in the center of the main floor behind the information desk at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Va.

June 02, 2013

Artist Val Lyle has just completed a major permanent commissioned artwork for The Southwest Virginia Higher Educational Center in Abingdon, Va., consisting of nine panels and measuring 11 feet wide titled "Barn Rhythms."

Bright graphic colors and patterns are complemented with rich dark warm impressions. Each panel is completely different in color palette and media technique, from oil pastel to drawing to painting.

"I designed the colors, lines, and patterns to move the eye around the composition. When folks stop to stare and smile at a 2D painting, that's an accomplishment!" says Lyle, who is also a sculptor, with a wink. "I am thrilled with this new direction for my Contemporary Barn Series, bringing honor to Appalachia. It took several years to master this visual vocabulary. Finally I can make it sing." Lyle says she has been using wooden tobacco barns as an icon of the mountain experience in a contemporary art context.

Julie Schwab, Interior Designer for SWVHEd, says "Val's beautiful piece is very dynamic looking in its new home, and looks especially stunning at night. She is a pleasure to work with and I hope to collaborate with her again in the future."

"Rachel Fowlkes, and Duffy Carmack of The Virginia Higher Education Center are great to work with" says Lyle. "They trusted my vision with this commission and provided me the opportunity to forge a new path in my work. I am so impressed with their commitment to display works by regional artists in their buildings and offices." Abingdon master carpenter Joel Harte crafted the beautiful panels,and Bob Ellis helped with the installation.

"Barn Rhythms" is located in the center of the main floor behind the information desk. "You should see it at night!" beams Lyle. "They installed track lighting and chose a new wall color to show off my art. Can you imagine how happy I am?"

This brings Lyle's total number of public artworks to seven, including the "Light of Hope" sculpture of two life-sized bronze children commissioned by CASA in downtown Knoxville, "Entwined Dancers" the eight foot tall rope dancers in Abingdon Va., the 10 "Caterpillar Crawl" bronzes commissioned by The Junior League in downtown Bristol, the large "Red Barn" painting at Meadowview Convention Center in Kingsport, "In Community" the ceramic sculpture at ETSU's student center, Carroll Reece Museum Collection, and "Look Up Barn" at Land Partners, Bristol.

Lyle continues to be a studio artist at William King Museum in Abingdon, Va. She was invited by Carol Blevins into Mallory Gallery's "Artists Admire Artists" exhibition this spring. Lyle has been an adjunct art faculty member for 14 years and is currently teaching at Emory & Henry College in Emory, VA.

For more information call Val Lyle at 423-878-2857 or visit

A! ExtraTopics: Exhibits