Grant Wood Art Colony – Colin Lyons

Grant Wood Art Colony – Colin Lyons


– So I came here as a Canadian artist. I grew up in a place called Petrolia, which was the first place in the world to discover crude oil. They had this major boom between the 1850s and the start of the 20th century. But what was strange
about growing up there, was that they ran out of
oil about a hundred years before I moved there. And so I grew up in this place that had really fallen on hard times, had this kind of evidence
of past grandeur, but really not a lot to
show for it at this point. And so sort of understand the kind of temporary nature of that. And sort of really have
come into everything, come into my work understanding economies through boom and bust cycles. And over the past 10 years my own work has been really looking at industry through that lens of fragility, and really thinking about
post-industrial landscapes, specifically looking at brownfields, and thinking about what do you do next with those spaces, and how do you deal
with that lost purpose? And I think that really has come out of my own understanding of the
place that I grew up in. So what I’m doing right now in Iowa is I’ve been working on
a site-specific project that really stems from the history of what’s generally talked
about as Mount Trashmore. But it has this really
interesting layered history, which began with being a shanty town and grew into a pretty small
community called Stumptown, but also within this same site, it has this layer of being a shanty town, a quarry, which was
called Snouffer Quarry. And beyond that, then of course, they filled that pit of
the quarry with the trash from Cedar Rapids for the last 50 years. And that became Mount Trashmore. So what I’m doing with
Site 1, or Mount Trashmore is to really think about that site, think about the way that we gravitate to industrial
nostalgia in this society, and where we kind of
gloss over a lot of the difficult aspects of history. And sort of look back on these times as being very different than
what they might have been. Creating a project that doubles as a historical monument and a kind of geoengineering prototype. The next time there’s
a thousand year flood, these capsules will be
released into the Cedar River, and there will be a very
small amount of iron sulfate left in the river to float down and sort of encourage
the growth of plankton within the river, which is basically the idea of this kind of geoengineering experiment, is to fertilize he waterways. I knew next to nothing about Grant Wood before I came here. I knew American Gothic. as a painting. I couldn’t have told you much about it. I didn’t even necessarily
know who those people were. But that was the extent of what I knew about Grant Wood coming in here. And it’s been really interesting to get to know a little
bit more about him, to go on tours with the other fellows, and to really use that as an opportunity to really think about Grant Wood and think about the context of Iowa, and think about why he was making the work that he was making. And yeah, I guess I’ve
sort of embraced that to a certain extent. And really come to appreciate it in a way that I didn’t before. And to me, that’s one of the things that the Grant Wood
Fellowship is really about. It’s about artists, allowing them the time to do what they need to do at that time. For me, it was time to think for awhile and develop a project
which is a major shift from anything that I’ve done in the past. Working at a university that has a really excellent grad program is something that is a really unique opportunity. And working with the grad
students here has been a kind of amazing opportunity. They all have really exciting practices, doing really interesting work. And being able to see what they’re doing is quite inspiring. But also being able to
bounce ideas off them. Being able to really
kind of take what I can from my colleagues and understand the range of the work
that’s being done here, is really exciting. So following the fellowship
at the University of Iowa, I’ll be moving to Binghamton, New York, where I’ll be taking on a position at Binghamton University, heading up the printmaking department. And this is a really exciting opportunity for me to be able to, first of all, take what I’ve learned
here in one of the top printmaking departments in the country, and really be able to bring
that to another place. But also to really I guess make it my own, and to really work with students and kind of create a new
direction for this department, which I think is gonna be really an exciting opportunity for me.

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