How did you choose a career in the arts??I have always leaned towards being creative. In elementary school I was the best student at drawing in my class so would often be asked to help the teachers illustrate on the boards. This eventually led to more art classes in high school and the choice of majoring in art in college. It wasn’t until college that I was introduced to and discovered what pleasure there would be for me in creating sculpture.
Where did you get your college degrees??My undergraduate degree is from Abilene Christian University in Texas and my graduate degree is from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.
What’s your favorite memory of your career as a student? During college my sculpture professor would hire me to help him on his commissions, and my graduate professor and I started a sculptural restoration business together. I enjoyed the time outside of classes that I was able to work with these two consummate professionals.
What are your research or professional interests? What are you working on now??My favorite thing to do is to work in large scale outdoor sculpture. These are usually made from materials like steel, stone, and bronze, or even a combination of several materials. As I type these answers I am working on two commissions for a new cancer center at CAMC in Charleston, WV. Both of these works are cast glass relief. Hopefully by the time this is shown they will have already been installed.
What was your first “big break”??During undergraduate and graduate school I was fortunate to pick up several major commissions. But one of the early breaks that I am most proud of was when I was invited by a team from Washington University to restore President Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Illinois. It was such an honor to have worked on this national monument.
What are some of your greatest or most recent professional achievements? As mentioned above, I just completed two works for the Charleston Area Medical Center. Last year I finished a commission for a large outdoor sculpture that is sited on the grounds of Bob Evan’s Corporate Headquarters in New Albany, Ohio. I was also given the University of Rio Grande’s Excellence in Scholarship Award. That was a great professional honor.
Do you have a website??Yes-my website, www.kevinlyles.com shows a lot of my work.
When did you start teaching at Rio??In the Fall of 1990.
What is your favorite course to teach at Rio…and why? That changes with the students. It is the mix of students that make the course enjoyable for me. And sometimes that mix happens in one class and the next time in a different one. If we’re talking strictly about academics, I really enjoy Three-dimensional Design.
What’s the best part of teaching??When a student seems really engaged and I can help share the delight in their success.
What’s the worst??When students don’t give their best effort. I might also add I’m not crazy about grading papers either!
If you could the spend the day with any fine artist, living or dead, who would it be??That’s a tough one. There are so many artists throughout history that I admire. That dream partially came true last year when I had the honor of welding small steel models for Fletcher Benton in his studio in San Francisco. (Fletcher is the artist that created the Folded/Circle Ring between the Fine Arts Building and the Greer Museum on the Rio campus) We worked together for four hours and I was able to witness the creative process of a great and famous artist.
Favorite book: Reading every day is something that is important to me so that makes it a hard one to pin down. Recently I finished “The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt”. I was amazed at his intellect, his drive, and his command of the English language.
Favorite artist: I’ve always really liked the work of a Spanish sculptor named Arnoldo Pomodoro. But recently the work of Anish Kapoor has really intrigued me. I believe Kapoor is the best contemporary sculptor going right now.
Favorite musician: I enjoy all of the classic rock like the Eagles, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, America, Fleetwood Mac, and other music from that era.
Favorite movie: The Bridge Over the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia are a tie.
Favorite food: It is hard to beat the fresh salmon I caught out of the Kenai River in Alaska. I grilled that over a fire with butter, onions, and lemon. I’m still looking for something that will match that. I have my doubts.
If you could move anywhere, where would you go? If it didn’t have to be permanent, (I’d miss the USA) I have really enjoyed each and every trip I have made to rural Wales.
If you couldn’t have a career in the arts, what would you do for a living? I think I would have made a pretty good industrial designer. But I kind of like the idea of archaeology too. I sound like my teenagers trying to decide what to major in, in college!
What are your hobbies (outside your professional activity)? Fly fishing, building things. bike-riding.
Do you share your home with family or pets? Robin and I have had four children and literally hundreds of pets. My daughter Emma is a PSEO student who still lives with us for one more semester. My other daughter Rachael is finishing graduate work online with Kent State University and is also still living with us. (Although she is getting married in June and will be leaving home for good.) Right now we also have a Great Pyrenees, Annabelle and a tabby cat named Picachu.
What’s the one thing that most people don’t know about you? I was once interviewed by Bryant Gumbel on the Today Show when I took a group of teachers from Rio to New York City.