KNOXVILLE, TN -- The "Light of Hope" sculpture by Bristol, Tenn., artist Val Lyle will be unveiled at 2 p.m. Nov. 6, 2009 at the Knox County Juvenile Court in downtown Knoxville.
Almost three years in the making, the life-sized bronze depicts two children, one consoling the other, sitting atop a black granite triangle. The sculpture was commissioned by CASA of East Tennessee, and funded by private donations and the sale of memorial bricks with personalized inscriptions laid around the base of the sculpture. On the base itself are the following quotations: "In remembrance of lives lost to child abuse" and "In celebration of lives saved through caring."
Sculptor Lyle says, "When the director of CASA contacted me about designing a sculpture for them, I was honored and 110 percent on board as this cause is close to my heart. I met several times with 'front line' CASA volunteers and members of the board and asked them to tell me what emotion they wanted the sculpture to convey, what feeling they wanted people to get from the piece. They eventually told me 'Rage and Hope' -- 'Rage' at the staggering number of infants and children who are killed at the hands of their adult care-givers every year, and 'Hope' that these numbers can be turned around."
After much discussion about marble or bronze, abstract or realistic, Lyle returned two weeks later with half a dozen designs. The final selection depicts a distressed child sitting above the inscription memorializing lives lost, while the comforting child sits over the inscription offering hope.
The stone is cut in a hard triangle. Lyle explains, "I chose this shape to make the viewer feel that things were askew, not predictable and stable like a rectangle or square stone would feel. I used solid black granite, which had to be imported, because black is the traditional color of mourning. I put it on a base stone, commonly seen in cemeteries, as another subtle reminder of the serious consequences of inaction."
Lyle continues, "Several friends and neighbors were kind enough to let me photograph and draw their children while working on this sculpture. Children's proportions are wildly different from those of adults, so it took a great deal of concentration as I had no particular 'models' and the faces were invented. I modeled them full-size in the traditional manner of completing the entire figure first, then added hair and drapery at the very end."
Other Artwork by Val Lyle
Lyle's "Entwined Dancers" rope sculpture was part of the "Female(s) Form(s)" exhibition at the William King Museum, Abingdon, Va., before being selected as the signature art for the 2009 Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon.
Her "Feminine Entwinement" rope sculpture won the People's Choice Award in the 2008-2009 Art in Public Places competition in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia.
She also created a series of bronze sculptures for The Caterpillar Crawl, a permanent scavenger hunt in downtown Bristol, based on the children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Also in 2009, her "Sages and Sanctuaries" series of artworks were on view at Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Va.; the Carroll Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City; and at The Arts Depot in Abingdon.
• Festival's 2009 Signature Art
• View a slide show of "Sanctuaries"