New York painter Francie Lyshak was introduced to art history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She then traveled to Paris to study painting. Returning to the United States, she earned her BFA at the Center for Creative Studies and Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Later, she got her Masters degree in Creative Arts Therapy from Pratt Institute, New York.
Making use of her graduate training, Lyshak designed and led community art service programs in New York and New Orleans and launched an art therapy program at Bronx Children’s Psychiatric Hospital. This professional immersion in art as a therapeutic tool influenced the focus of her subsequent visual practice on psychological experience.
Lyshak’s early painting practice was profoundly influenced by her fellow artists, musicians, actors, dancers and writers in the East Village, NYC. She was a feminist who created emotionally and psychologically-loaded paintings, rebelling against the restrained intellectualism that she saw in paintings and sculpture during the 70’s and 80’s. She later documented her arts community online – as they battled homophobia, the AIDS epidemic and Reganism and witnessed the rise and fall of the East Village arts community. By depicting animals, dolls, and toys as well as the human figure, she began to investigate habitually overlooked aspects of life. In 1993, to narrate trauma and recovery from childhood abuse, she staged an exhibition of her paintings that was published in a book called, The Secret: Art and Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse.
After that show and freed of childhood wounds, Lyshak’s paintings shifted away from figuration towards painterly color fields, monochrome abstractions and incised, textured relief paintings. Throughout, however, the work retains a focus on inner states of mind and heart. From using dreamlike symbolism to allowing the material of paint itself to take center stage, Lyshak has continued to offer an open space for reflection on the human condition.
Francie Lyshak has exhibited in solo exhibitions at venues around New York including LaMama LaGalleria, and at Carter Burden Gallery in Chelsea, NY. She recently exhibited in several museum shows at the Phillips Museum of Franklin & Marshall College, the Butler Institute and Gadsen Cultural Arts Foundation. She has also participated in numerous group exhibitions at venues including Lichtenfire, La Mama La Galleria, Denise Bibro Fine Art, A.I.R. Gallery, RC Fine Arts, Barbara Ann Levy Gallery, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Carter Burden Gallery, and Stephen Harvey Fine Arts. She has shown work with curators and jurors including Alice Neel, Patterson Sims, and Paulina Pobocha.
Lyshak is the recipient of awards at competitions and events including the First Annual Prize Competition, Provincetown Arts Association and Museum; Museum of the Hudson Highlands Fourth Annual Competition, Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY; and Annual Faber Birren National Color Award. Her work is represented in the collection of the Bronx Children’s Center, Butler Institute and in private collections in the US and UK.