From here to eternity 

Rebecca Lyon: Oh Rock’a My Soul
Galerie Penumbra
Through June 29

Can death be beautiful? Absolutely. Profoundly. If we didn’t already know this, artist Rebecca Lyon shows us with a serene dignity exemplified by her delicate stitches, weavings, bindings and suspensions that symbolize life’s transition into death.
Lyon’s collection of installations, Oh Rock’a My Soul, on view at Galerie Penumbra, gives us permission to talk about death as a rite of passage, a transcendent moment in time when one realizes an ending that signifies a beginning, whether this is what we believe or not.

Lyon, an Indianapolis-based artist with more expansive American geographical roots — she has studied and worked in New York, San Francisco and the Arizona high desert — has made a home here for many years now, and here she has honed her art from its early seeds sprung from studies in theater and costume design. Lyon’s textiles have always been lovely and more: They’ve spoken to inward and outward truths from an authentic, strong and yet vulnerable place. You could say Lyon searches for meaning with needle and thread, incorporating other materials and concepts, building and experimenting and taking risks. And the results in this case culminate Galerie Penumbra’s four-part series, In Her Element: The Art of Four Women, perfectly, epitomizing another truth: that artistic sensibility may or may not spring from an experience of maleness of femaleness, but if we can define an aesthetic experience from the standpoint of gender, then Lyon’s work is at the top of its form.

Few male artists choose to pick up needle and thread, after all, if they did, the results could be equally profound. But Lyon has done the good work here: bringing her own views, sensitivities and seeking to what she creates.

Six works comprise the exhibition, filling the gallery spaces like shimmering spider webs, holding and cradling and cherishing rather than snuffing out. “Release” alone spans half a gallery, its long, taut threads from floor to wall carrying the souls of the dead in tiny, perfectly constructed travois filled with pearly shrouds, small mounds containing the symbolic remains of departing souls. The effect is mystical, ephemeral: Reeds and bamboo form the armatures of these tiny hammocks, suggesting the Earth and its reach into the sky.

Lyon weaves the personal and the global with integrity and beauty. This is just what art is meant to be and to do.
Oh Rock’a My Soul, by Rebecca Lyon, is on view through June 29 at Galerie Penumbra, 1043 Virginia Ave. Call 317-508-8043 or visit for hours and information.

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