by sandi tomlin-sutker
painter, flutist, singer, single mom: these are just a few descriptive
words for Delia Lytle. But they only describe things she does, not who
she really is. I would use words like deeply spiritual, community-oriented,
grateful for the truly important aspects of her life.
and I met on a beautifully crisp August morning at Gold Hill Espresso
to talk about her work. Ive seen Delias impressive sculptures
at downtown Ashevilles Woolworth Walk (see sidebar), so imagine
my surprise when I learned that she was classically trained as a musician
(with an MA in music performance) not as a visual artist. It was only
after a life-changing trauma that she began to paint as therapy. Im
a fairly intense person, I go through a broad range of emotions regularly
needed to deal with the trauma, needed to express my suffering.
Initially she turned to painting. Then, through the Odyssey Center for
Ceramic Arts in the River District of Asheville (see sidebar), she found
ceramics, specifically figurative sculpture. That was four years ago.
There was no doubt this was my medium
its turned into
a sort of obsession!
found this art form allowed her to connect with others in pain and trauma,
to let them know they are not alone in their experience. Often
people suffering trauma really cant talk about it
the best way to connect. And connection is one of Delias
strong points. Delia lived in Miami with her small son (Aidan, now 8
½) when her life turned upside down. She lost everything but
her son and her life; they became homeless at that point. That
experience gave me a different outlook on life, on people. She
came home to Asheville then to the support of her family and community.
Her art is directly informed by growing up in this area. Her aunts and
grandmother were all craftswomen who made quilts, dolls, etc. Im
very inspired by that mountain woman thing! she laughs. In her
work there is a subtle blend of folk art and fine art. She feels that
not having formal art training allows a looseness in her work. She is
less concerned about criticism, more able to maintain the joy of the
work. It is said that if you add color to sculpture it becomes
Im not concerned with those sorts of judgements.
One of my favorite quotes is you can judge and you can create
but not at the same time.
desire to create without judgment is strong for Delia. For a couple
of years she says she lost the joy of her music because of her classical
training and the preconceptions of good and bad that went with that.
Music involves other people intensively; at my worst state I couldnt
deal with that. Visual art is more subtle and alone. But both give me
vehicles to connect with the divine and with humanity. I need both.
says that her sense of spirituality has strengthened over the years
and she likes to reflect that in her art, using symbolism to reflect
deeper spiritual themes. Although her sculptures are figurative she
doesnt consider herself a realist. I like to use the eyes,
the angle of the head, color, to say what I want, not facial expressions.
There is always something emotional or spiritual underlying each piece.
was just a little time left in our talk. Finally, I want to know how
she does it all. Artist, mother, citizen, woman
Vice President of her PTA and swims five days a week at the Y. It
was really hard when my son was not in school, when he was younger.
Now he comes to rehearsals, hes also an artist himself, so he
works alongside me. About money, I live in a faith-based universe. Let
it go and let if flow. I want to keep my art affordable so regular
people can buy it. Weve been able to make ends meet! She
credits Woolworth Walk with much of her success, telling me they have
a range of rents available and want to support artists who might not
have another place to show their work.
know, as a survivor of a violent crime you have to get your power back.
You will tend to give it away until you heal. Her art, her family
and community and her spirituality all have been part of that healing.
REST OF ARTICLE COMING SOON ]