Artist Spotlight: Sarah Lyon (The photographer exposes herself) [Visual Art]

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Sarah Lyon interview

How would you describe your aesthetic?
I have a hard time with that because I’m in different places with different bodies of work. The portraits and the spaces in Louisville I go for abandoned, old, used, but the new stuff at Zephyr isn’t like that at all. I need to answer that question.

In your work you feature landscapes and portraits. Do you prefer one over the other?
I started out doing portraits for this project, but then I would go to places and find a spot where I might like to shoot somebody. It initially started as a way to engage with people. The final look of the picture didn’t really matter it was about engaging. I just moved back to town and was meeting new friends.

Do you know all the people who you feature in your portraits?
They’re all Louisville people; they’re all friends of mine. They weren’t for an assignment or anything.

What about the women in your female mechanic calendar? Did you know them before you started this project?
No. I found those people through the internet, word of mouth, articles published. Mostly through research. It was really hard to find women mechanics. The first calendar I did I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find any or enough to fill a whole year, but then I ended up having to make it a 14 month calendar because that year I did find enough. It was never easy.

Were the women excited to be featured?
Oh yes. I only had one woman back out on me after I had driven all the way there. [laughs] I think she wasn’t sure about me or what I was doing. I kind of understand because I’ve had t.v. producers from New York and L.A. call me wanting my contacts because they want to do reality t.v. shows about women working in car shops.

How do you feel about that?
At first I thought that sounds great and then I realized I don’t like reality t.v. at all and I don’t really want to be associated with something that’s not my project and I worked really hard to find these women and develop trust with them.

Do you find it flattering that t.v. producers are calling you?
Yes I do.

You stopped doing the calendar in 2009?
The project took over my life a little bit and I wanted to start doing fine art again and I couldn’t figure out how to do both, so I just stopped. [laughs]

According to your projects, it’s clear that you like to travel. Why stay in Louisville?
I did live on my bike for a few years and had a tiny studio in Old Louisville that was $100 a month. It had a toilet, but I joined a gym so I could have a shower. I did that in between trips. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but it’s nice having a base.

When did you start riding a motorcycle?
When I was 18. It was when I lived in Ohio during college. I would ride with a friend on the back of his bike around the fields. I never thought about driving it myself, but one day he pulled over and asked me if I wanted to learn. He taught me.

Are you ever fearful driving a motorcycle?
You should be. [laughs] I’ve gotten into a lot of wrecks and broken lots of bones. One wreck I ended up getting money for which allowed me to do the first female mechanics calendar.

When you travelled across the country on your bike, did you always go by yourself?
Yes.

So you’re not a fearful person?
No.

What’s your favorite place you’ve travelled so far?
It’s hard to say. It always depends on the attitude that you have at the time and if you’re with somebody or not. I love San Francisco, but I also love riding through Montana. I also love the West, the middle of nowhere, Highway 50 the loneliest highway through Nevada. I spent Christmas in Death Valley once that was awesome. I like surreal places.

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