Well-Known Santa Fe Artist, Lucy Lyon, Tapped To Create Glass Sculpture For Sandy Hook Memorial
The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012 tragically took the lives of twenty innocent school children (all between the ages of 6 and 7) and six adult staff members. It is widely regarded as one of the great tragedies in recent American history. As with the subjects of other monuments that serve to commemorate persons and events of historical and cultural importance, the victims of Sandy Hook have now become memorialized in an emotionally moving and sensitively-rendered glass sculpture created by well-known Santa Fe artist Lucy Lyon.
Memorials carry the memories of a people and mark events that their collective values tell them are too important to forget. They communicate remembrance and potential redemptive significant across time. In their function to honor and endure, they can confer a degree of comfort in the face of tormenting pain from irreversible loss. The incident at Sandy Hook was an unspeakable tragedy that the Connecticut community, and the nation as a whole, is still trying to cope with. It is in this context that Sandy Hook Memorial was commissioned by Donald R. Droppo Sr., Chairman of Curtis Packing Corp., and a prominent member of the Sandy Hook community.
Acclaimed for her ability to express complex emotion and reverential contemplation through narrative cast-glass sculptures, Lyon has created a school library in cast and stained glass that symbolically signifies multiple dimensions of this inconceivable tragedy. Etched into the front of the base, between two single library shelves, is the only obvious reference to the Sandy Hook shooting, the date of the tragedy, “December 14, 2012.”
Other references gain emotional power in their subtlety. Twenty classroom chairs, with seats of colored cast glass and bronze legs, sit in deserted circles, each acting as a powerful individual monument to the twenty murdered children.Six cast glass books sit open and askew on shelves in silent memorial to the teachers and staff that gave their lives endeavoring to save the children. Six book shelves protectively tower over the small chairs, further suggesting the strength of these brave staff members, even as toppling books allude to the ultimate collapse of their futile efforts to keep the children safe.
Lyon masterfully uses the school library as a remarkably powerful metaphor to memorialize the Sandy Hook victims. The fragile beauty of glass resonates movingly with those same precious qualities possessed by the children themselves. A library has particular significance as the repository of the history of a people. There is poignant felicity in its use here to preserve the memory of these murdered children. A library also retains the stories and myths that carry the values and meanings of a culture. That it should be commissioned as the subject of a work of art to keep alive the memory of these victims is reflective both of the value this culture attaches to aesthetics and art’s capacity to express the sublime reverence and honor that the memorial is intended to convey. There is enormous poetic irony in realizing that from their murders these innocent children have become part of the story of human tragedy, while at the same time they have been denied in death the chance ever to know the other stories the library holds.
The subtly and the intensity in Sandy Hook Memorial, like that in Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial — which Lyon studied while creating this work of art — allows the sculpture to transcend the first purpose of remembering and honoring the lives sacrificed, to become a place of healing, and to carry forward society’s valuing of both sacrifice and tragic loss.
In remembrance and honoring of the lives that were lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy, LewAllen Galleries is honored to present Sandy Hook Memorial by glass artist Lucy Lyon, on view at LewAllen Galleries at the Santa Fe Railyard from March 28 through April 20, 2014, when it will be transported to be permanently displayed in Sandy Hook, CT.