From her Anchorage studio, visual artist Linda Infante Lyons (Alutiiq) reminisces about being raised in Alaska. “[It was] a time when children were allowed to explore unsupervised. My environment was a then undeveloped wilderness and a child’s imagination could run wild.” That vivid imagination is spectacularly expressed in her paintings.
Infante Lyons’ work contains many fascinating and beautiful elements with very strong cultural and spiritual components. After centuries of artistic representation of Christian religious symbols and archetypes, her work presents a modern vision of the sacred icon. She honors her subjects with combinations representing her own unique cultural, religious, and geographic experiences. The environment, a recurring theme in her paintings, is lovingly portrayed through the wildlife that inhabit sacred landscapes. In an icon-inspired portrait of her Alutiiq great-grandmother, she paints ancient Alutiiq mask symbols as the adornments on a halo. Her latest works will examine Alaska Native identity through Alaska landscapes – before the colonization by Russia and America – as she imagines her indigenous ancestors would have experienced them.
She offers her work as a quietly subversive act intended to achieve an element of decolonization. As she combines Alaska Native symbols of spirituality, tribal landscapes, sacred animal spirits and ceremonial relics, it is her hope that their sacred nature and the strength and power of Alaska Native women may counteract the dominant imagery of Western religion.
Infante Lyons received a 2016 Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship Individual Artist Award, and has been painting and exhibiting for over 15 years.
In my portraits, I simplify form to the most essential to describe a realm of spiritual realities. I am consistently lured by the promise of transcendence and the possibility of discovery in each new piece of work.
~ Linda Infante Lyons
Linda Infante Lyons interviewed for her role as Artist-in-Residence for the Denali National Park and Preserve, 2014.