The Kennedy Center

Emily Gail Lyles


Summerville, South Carolina
Award of Excellence: $2,000
Age: 24
"I use art as a way to find a sense of closure about having to cope with unresolved heath problems… instead of feeling powerless while everything was happening around and to me, I am the one with the paintbrush, and therefore, I have the control. "
Emily Gail Lyles uses art as a way to revisit traumatic events of the past and replace the anxiety, fear, and depression of each experience with power, control, and closure. Art has played a major role in formulating who Lyles is on her path to becoming a profesisonal artist, as well as being a form of self-therapy while living with the complications of Achondroplasia.
Lyles' current oil paintings are snapshots of memories from the hospital experiences of her teenage years. Using exaggerated perspective, an upward viewpoint,  and large scale panels, Lyles wants to place the viewer actively in the scene as she is going under anesthesia. Lyles is quick to affirm that the skeletons in her works do not represent negativity towards the doctors or nurses who treated her, but instead are metaphors for the feelings of anxiety she felt knowing that her life was out of her hands. Through the process of art, however, Lyles paints a testimony of her perseverence.
Lyles holds a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art from the College of Charleston and currently is a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of South Carolina.
Emily Gail Lyles