Joan Lyons

February 25-October 15, 2023
Forman Gallery & Installations through MAG’s American permanent collection galleries

Joan Lyons (b. 1937) has been extending the limits of photography, printmaking, and artists’ books for over six decades. From the start of her career in the 1960s, Lyons has been a fearless innovator in a wide range of historical and contemporary image-making processes including pinhole photography, Haloid-Xerox drawing, offset and silkscreen printing, photo-quilt making, and digital photography. Lyons has centered her practice at the intersection between process and concept: “Each emerging work suggested a new approach to materials. In turn, the evolving piece reinforced my concept.”

Photography’s dominant role in visual culture over the past century has made it an ideal means through which to reinforce entrenched traditions and beliefs, all of which Lyons has interrogated through her art. In the 1960s–1980s, she focused on a feminist inquiry into the deeply personal and particular as subjects for her art. To this day she continues to investigate the power and conventions of photography, image-making, and representation within Western culture.

This exhibition is the first museum retrospective dedicated to the artist in her home town of Rochester, New York. It features a broad and representative selection of Lyons’ work from all six decades of her career. The exhibition will begin in MAG’s introductory Forman Gallery, which welcomes all visitors to MAG, and will extend into spaces throughout the American galleries.

About the Artist

Since the start of her career, Joan Lyons (b. 1937) has exhibited her art in galleries and museums around the world. It is also in the permanent collections of, for example, the DeCordova Museum; J. Paul Getty Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Minneapolis Institute of Art; National Gallery of Canada; Norton-Simon Museum, and the Yale University Art Gallery. In 2007, Lyons had a retrospective exhibition at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, and in 2018, Lyons’ career was featured in a major exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York and Paris.

In addition to her work in photography, Lyons was Founding Director of Rochester’s Visual Studies Workshop Press, which she led from 1972–2004. She was responsible for the production and publication of 450 titles, as well as over 30 editions of her own artist books. She is the editor of the influential Artists’ Books: A Critical Anthology and Sourcebook (1986, 1988, 1991, 1993), and Artists’ Books: Visual Studies Workshop Press 1972–2008 (2009).