Sean Lyons, Untitled – A Man and His Icons from Religious to Pop

Sean Lyons, Untitled

A Man and His Icons from Religious to Pop

The Arts Council is excited to welcome a new artist to our Member Exhibit Wall. During the months of July and August we are featuring the work of Sean Lyons who paints mythological, religious and pop culture figures, exploring their commonalities and dichotomies.

Sean’s work also explores consumerism, communication and fandom in today’s culture. Bursting with vivid color and detailed imagery, each piece of Sean’s work is an unexpected surprise, where Kung Fu masters, the Simpsons and Mystery Science Theater collide. His exhibit and the works in it have no titles, leaving the naming and the experience to the consumer. 

Giant robots and Kiss 

Lansing born and raised, Sean has enjoyed making art since he was very young and has always had an affinity for interesting characters. When asked about his early years as an artist, Sean recalls his first foray into artmaking. “I illustrated and wrote two picture books, I still have them somewhere,” he says. “One is about giant robots, and the other is about the rock band Kiss. Although I had not heard their music, I was taken in by their image which was everywhere at the time.”

Oil and acrylic 

As an a adult, Sean took his art interest to Michigan State University where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. His focus was largely painting, but he also studied graphic design. Today he produces works on canvas using acrylic paint, but he started in oil and has experimented in gold leaf and other materials as well. “I have always been fond of painting,” he says.”I’m attracted to its immediacy and strength of color. I especially like acrylic it’s much easier to clean, and I enjoy its plastic nature and minimal drying time.

Tibetan and pop

Sean’s current work is heavily influenced by Asian religious painting such as Tibetan Thankga and Buddhist art, which he then filters through a comic book lens, incorporating design elements as well as characters such as Marvel superheros, Yoda and Frankenstein. Last year a piece of Sean’s work was exhibited in Art Prize, and he is excited to be exhibiting again this year. His show at the Arts Council, however, is his first ever exhibit of a complete body of work, an experience that leaves him both humbled and proud.

Sean and Pikachu 

One fan he is most sure of is his three-year-old daughter Mia who shares an affinity for many of the characters that appear in Sean’s work. When asked which of his character representations is most like him, he ponders a minute. “Hmmm, there are so many.” But in the end, Pikachu wins. “Pikachu is always trying to be the best–he is also loyal, determined, compassionate and somewhat particular,” says Sean. “Plus, my daughter loves him, too.”

Canvas and totem poles 

Beside his love for painting and Pokemon, Sean also dabbles in building models and amateur robotics, something he would like to incorporate into his work in the future. “I would love to work in 3D sculpture,” he says.”I have visions of someday being able to carve totem poles or ceremonial masks. I’d also like to expand my experience in 3D-printing.

Free-time and focus 

When he has the time, Sean enjoys playing video games and making music, but says he doesn’t have much time these days to devote to those interests, “Lately my free time is pretty limited, and focusing on my painting is really important to me in this phase of my life.” He also is big on the arts and culture scene in Lansing. “I love to see how much it has grown since I first started seeking it out,” he says. “I really look forward to seeing that continue. It’s very exciting.”

Going to Art Prize? You can find Sean’s work at The Bitter End coffee shop on Fulton St. near Grand Valley.