New York painter Francie Lyshak studied art history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, then traveled to Paris to study painting for a summer. Returning to the United States, she studied for a BFA at the Center for Creative Studies and Wayne State University, both in Detroit. Later, she earned an MPS 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 began her artistic career in New York City’s East Village in the 1970s, where she joined a community of artists, musicians, and writers that included David Wojnarowicz, Peter Hujar, and Gary Indiana. She later documented this scene in a series of interviews and images collectively titled The Bar, after one of the grouping’s regular meeting places.
During this time, Lyshak developed a style of painting that was in part a reaction against the prevailing trends of minimalism, Pop, and conceptual art. She began using images metaphorically to explore emotional themes from a feminist perspective. Depicting animals, dolls, and toys as well as the human figure, she began to investigate habitually overlooked aspects of life, and in 1993 staged an exhibition that explored her recovery from childhood sexual abuse, reproducing the paintings in a book with accompanying text.
After this project, Lyshak’s aesthetic began a gradual shift from figuration toward color field and monochrome abstraction and work with incised handwritten text. It retains, however, a focus on the landscapes of the mind. 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, most often, La Mama La Galleria and Carter Burden Gallery. She has also participated in numerous group exhibitions at venues including 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, and 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 Psychiatric Center, and in private collections in the US and UK.