New Harmony Gallery features ‘Envisioned Worlds’

Megan Thorne


Imaginary civilizations and zoological creatures have made their way into the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art.

The new “Envisioned Worlds: Lithographs from the Hokes Archives” exhibit is on display at the gallery through Sept. 5, with a workshop on Aug. 28 at the university. The exhibit will be featured during the New Harmony Antique Stroll from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29.

Beauvais Lyons, chancellor’s professor of art at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said the exhibit surveys prints from three separate bodies of work over the past 30 years.

“During this time I have fabricated and documented imaginary civilizations, medical prints and zoological creatures, all using the printing methods we associate with scientific illustration. My imaginary, or parody science emulates this history of printing,” Lyons said.

As a student, Lyons was always interested in how art allowed him to apply the things he was learning in his academic courses in anthropology, botany, history and writing.

“Art has been a tool for me to integrate these and other areas of learning while also formulating new, imaginary worlds,” Lyons said.

The Hokes Archives is the name Lyons said he gave to his collection of inventions.

“The name is a pun on the work hoax, but it also allows me to work with almost any subject that could be represented in a museum or documentary format,” Lyons said.

Lyons said that because his father was a professor of english, it inspired him to follow in his footsteps and become a professor of art.

“Mostly, I love being a student, and teaching is the best way to remain in the world of learning. I also really enjoy fostering a learning community in the studio where I teach at the University of Tennessee,” Lyons said.

“I was always interested in art,” Lyons said. “I was always drawing, although I do have an interest in culture, politics, people, history, movies and life.”

He believes this is the stuff that gives art meaning and purpose.

“I hope they will think differently about print culture and the ways that it is vital to the history of science. I also hope they will consider ways that art is informed by the many disciplines that make up the university,” Lyons said.

“I want viewers to find the exhibit fun,”Lyons said. “The work is intended to be ironic.”

He also said that if he could describe his artwork in one sentence it would be,  “Beauvais Lyons is an artist who fabricates and documents the imaginary.”

Lyons said that he will host a workshop from 1:30 to 4:20 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28 at the university, where he will be teaching a two-color pronto plate demo/workshop demo.

Lyons said that his workshop will give students a chance to understand how principles of color and printing help him with his process. Later that evening, he will be giving a lecture on Mock Documentation at the university.

“The work is presented as a historical look at the work of Everitt Ormsby Hokes. As such, I felt it would be especially interesting to present it in the context of a historical place such as New Harmony,” said Garry Holstein, director of New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art.

Holstein said that the concept for this exhibit is to show an example of literary and cinematic traditions of mock documentation, where the artist is able to speak the needs and conditions of contemporary society through para-fiction which is a term used to describe an emergent genre of artwork that plays in the overlap between fact and fiction and creation.

“Beauvais Lyons presents a body of work that is highly crafted while retaining a sense of playfulness,” said Holstein. “Thus, the work can be admired by art connoisseurs, but is accessible to all patrons.”

Holstein said he enjoys the hybrid animal creations of the creative zoology series of lithographs. He finds the depth of development impressive across the series and throughout the entire project.

“We intentionally timed the reception and activities for the first week of the semester,” Holstein said. “It is our hope that it will help both entering and returning students become better acquainted with the many cultural and educational opportunities provided by the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art and Historic New Harmony,”