Sylvia Hyman

Sylvia Hyman

(1917-2012 born in Buffalo, NY) lived in Nashville
Crate of Books and Things, 2002
ceramic stoneware, 10.75 x 12 x 8.25 inches, 2005.54.2

Hyman received her bachelor’s degree in art education from the New York State Teachers College at Buffalo and obtained a master’s degree in art education from Peabody College for Teachers, now known as Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.  Her work can be found in museums and art collections worldwide including the Renwick Gallery of Smithsonian American Art Museum, the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pamona, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, the Saga Prefectural Museum in Saga, Japan, and the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

Her awards included a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Craft Arts from the National Museum of Women in the Arts of Washington, D.C. the 1994 Tennessee Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, and the 2004 Individual Artist Fellowship award from the Tennessee Arts Commission. In 2001 Hyman created the ceramic trompe l’oeil award presented to recipients of the Governor’s Awards in the Arts.

Although later in life she became legally blind, Hyman continued to create sculptural ceramic pieces for commission and exhibition in her Nashville studio with the help of two assistants. The Intriguing Vision of Sylvia Hyman: Trompe l’oeil Ceramic Artist, a book of her ceramic work, edited by Janet Mansfield, was published in 2012, the same year she died in Nashville.


Sarcophagus for Myself, 1973
clay, 16.75 x 19.5 x 12.75 inches, 93.39.268

This cinerarium vessel with Hyman’s face depicted on the lid was part of her Etruscan series. When Hyman passed away in 2012, plans were made to seal some of her cremated remains within this burial urn as a place of remembrance. Hyman knew what ingredients could be used in creating workable glazes and clay so she planned on her remaining ashes to be used in pottery glazes and kneaded into clay that were formulated by close friends and potters, Susan DeMay and Tom Turnbull.


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