Lycia Danielle Trouton | Sculptor


The Dragon's Tail

126 ft (length) X 11ft (height) tapering to 3ft (height) 1995 - 97 X 4ft to 2ft (in width)
Penn State University, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA,
Included in the Exhibition TIMEFRAMES , Albright College, PA, 1997.

Rammed Earth enhanced with iron oxide; timbers fallen at construction site This sculpture addresses the changes brought to the Pennsylvania State University college campus in Berks country, PA, by the newly constructed freeway and sound barrier wall adjacent to campus. The "tail" symbolizes the change/chaos/re-creation of a dragon's energy…traveling down the slope and acting as a continuation and yet, diversion, of the original concrete sound barrier. The sculpture was sited for two years, during which time it disintegrated gradually back into the earth. I wanted the piece to reflect the spirit of the historic arboretum, situated directly opposite, on another hill on the other side of the campus.

Catalogue Essay by Donald Kuspit
Thanks to over 100 juvenile offenders, community members and students.
Thanks to the inspirational dialogue with David Scott-Risner & Tony Woo during the conception of this artwork.
Thanks to artist’s assistants: Mary (Journeyman UBC, Kitty, John, Norwood and Lena.

Time Frames
Time Frames

The Dragon's Tail
The Dragon's Tail
The Dragon's Tail
The Dragon's Tail
The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon's Tail

The Dragon's Tail The Dragon's Tail

Community Fence Vancouver

This 1993 'early' public art project was conceived by me and Pat Beaton, a printmaker, after we attended a Suzanne Lacy lecture put on by the city's Parks and Recreation department. Pat and I had worked together for previous months in 'a group', an exhibition of Forest Art in the U.B.C. Silviculture Research Forest at Maple Ridge with Kempton Dexter, artist, and Rick Gibson, artist-curator, 1992 (reviewed by Ann Rosenthal of The Vancouver Sun). I had been made aware of the community gardens by its long-time manager, an ecologist and educator, Gavin Ross. (I had not lived in Vancouver since 1984 and was eager to contribute as well as get involved in the local art scene). We obtained a 'ready-or-not' inter-generational community grant to start the project which then took off with Vancouver's well-known, avant garde, alternative space: 'grunt gallery' management (with Director: Glenn Alteen) and other, multi-lingual artists; the project reached many intercultural resident citizens of East Vancouver and created community around the gardens and visibility for the Community Gardens, a few of which were scattered throughout the downtown eastside, especially. The grunt gallery, in danger of being 'gentrified' out of the area, moved into new premises around the time of the Community Fence.

My public art is not meant to foster gentrification or cosmetic solutions, but endeavours to encourage people to question and focus on the issues underlying the shifts in urban planning (see Krzysztof Wodiczko and Rosalyn Deutsche, 1986).

I had known about Suzanne Lacy's new-genre public art from sculpture school, although I had not been encouraged to work in this manner at Cranbrook.

Vancouver Courier : Photo: Rob Kryte

In 2009, in contemporary art theoretical circles, a Los Angeles performance art theorist has stated that there is a distinct 'Lacy school' of public art (Meiling Cheng In Other Los Angeleses 2002 Chapter 3). Since the early 90s, this project was considered 'a landmark' in public art by the City of Vancouver (which wrote its public art policy in 1994).

Workshops: Haruko Okano, Charmain Bullen, Pat Beaton, Marie Addison
Lycia Trouton, January 2009
Photo: Merle Addison

BioLogical Time & Serpentine Knowledge

BioLogical Time

300 bales of wheat straw with lime wash

“In Process”: Lycia Trouton’s BioLogical Time at Sheehan Gallery Review by Deborah J. Haynes, Washington State University, Pullman

Eastern Washington is wheat country, but the link between the straw-coloured hills of autumn and the interior of an art gallery is seldom made. At the Sheehan Gallery at Whitman College, an indoor-outdoor work by Lycia Trouton attempts to forge this explicit link to the landscape. A native of Ireland, Trouton now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia and has used the Sheehan to create her first major indoor installation.

Inside, a large architectural structure, built of bales of wheat straw in the shape of a spiral, occupies most of the gallery space. The outer surface of the spiral has been whitewashed, while a Celtic snake motif painted on the surface thematically joins it to Serpentine Knowledge outdoors. In one corner of the large square field outside, Trouton and numerous volunteers tilled the soil and planted a 350-foot-long meandering snake; the wheat that forms the body of the snake was planted in June and the shafts are maturing now.

Together, these two elements form an elegant dialogue. Walking across the field toward the gallery, one follows the path created by the planted wheat. Once inside, one sees – and smells – the wheat straw structure. At one end of the gallery wall, ten foot shafts of grain are painted in pale gold. Drawn forward by the bold design on the exterior of the structure, one then wanders toward the back of the gallery, where the entrance into the spiral beckons. The dark interior passage is lit by occasional small ceiling or side windows that provide only the dimmest light. The smell is overwhelming, claustrophobic. One might imagine this as part of a ritual: meditative walking toward a quiet, inner sanctum.

If Trouton had remained true to this potential, BioLogical Time would have been a stunning installation, allowing the viewer to make connections between significant ecological and spiritual issues…

[But] Trouton’s commitment to community involvement meant that many individuals were involved in the project, providing materials and helping to construct the structure during her two-week residency…

…At the center of the spiral structure, bread dough ornaments … monsters of various sizes and shapes greet the viewer at eye level…

Clearly, BioLogical Time is about process, the process of a small group of people working together with imagery closely connected to the local environment. Viewed from this perspective, my critique of the installation remains limited, perhaps, by my own expectations of what an art gallery is. But Trouton might well take lessons from Suzanne Lacy, Ann Hamilton or Robin Winters, whose community and process-oriented art are sophisticated in concept and final execution.

Serpentine Knowledge

360ft (length) X 4 ft (width) Planted Penawawa Spring Wheat, 1993 Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

"I worked with Lycia in the early a curator, I had up to that time never worked with an artist who brought more commitment and discipline to her work...BioLogical TIme was beautiful and the work engendered complex intellectual discourse. Essentially, her work touched -- deeply -- people's lives. In essence, her art created community.

Lycia Trouton’s environmentally conscious and complex monumental work with natural materials is compelling, intellectually rigorous, and just plain beautiful. In her work, she is helping us learn again how to live together on this fragile, damaged sphere.

"Lycia brings to ALL her work a commitment to public discourse, an engagement with essential social themes, an extraordinary intellectual rigor and a rare and refreshing integrity. Her public art is significant and beautiful."

Ben Mitchell, Art Curator/Editor, The Nicolaysen Art Museum, Wyoming, USA 2000.
Former senior curator, Yellowstone Art Museum; former director and has been a panelist throughout the North West for state and city arts councils’ fellowships and grants; was a 2004 NEA panelist.

Public Art Consultant Annual Review.

Project: The Rainier Beach Library, South Seattle SAC/SPL. 2001-2002

of Public Art professionals, March 18 2002.


My approach to public art is to foster community through artwork that questions, creates dialogue and triggers associations with the site - its historic, current and future uses. I work to integrate appropriate imagery and conceptual concerns, together with meeting the practical parameters of the architecture and site. 

Public Art (Budget $24,000 incl.taxes + Artist's Fee of $7,000) for the Rainier Beach branch; to increase the visibility, civic pride and cultural identity and awareness for the entranceway of the library expansion. 

A Design Team collaboration between Streeter & Associates Architects, Nakano Associates, interior space designer, landscape architect and myself. As a public artist, I arrived at a unified contextual theme based on knowledge of diverse cultures and the natural environment that constitutes the Rainier Beach community. 

Rainier Beach has a historical connection to the land as it was a farming valley that soon looked to its natural cove beach for recreation and pleasure. Originally named "Atlantic City Park", for many years it was a traditional swimming beach and amusement center for the community. Today, Rainier Beach has a boat marina harbor fronting on Beersheva Park, which is maintained and improved by the community through the Department of Neighborhoods Grant Program. 

The future vision, expressed in the 2014 Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan, describes a revitalized Central Business District adjacent to the library, named Beach Square. Hence, the artwork will support the underlying waterfront theme concept in the Neighborhood Plan.

Conceptual Approach:
Three themes, distilled as important to this site, as developed through two neighborhood focus groups, community networking, interviews and personal research over a ten-month period:

1) Immigration theme:

- Rainier Beach has had a history of various waves of immigration over the past century. - Today's immigrants have a well-developed sense of dual identity. 
- Residents have retained their native language and customs, over and above a common desire for assimilation. 
- Rainier Beach residents might come from either end of the spectrum: economically disadvantaged persons with few educational and lifestyle choices, or residents who favor the American urban, multi-cultural village and who take advantage of the opportunities of global travel.
The Artwork needs to 
a) provide image to the various cultural traditions within the broader community.
b) help address tolerance and dialogue rather than resurgent nativism, especially in a more competitive regional and global economic climate.
c) provide a context and container for these issues.

2) Communications theme:
- Today's library is a center for convenient and easy access to multi-media, the web, email and electronic databases. 
- Digital communication can be seen as a universal language system in which we all share, across all cultures. 
- The advances in communication through the ages may be seen as a vehicle for the development of cross-cultural understanding and systems of knowledge.

3) Wave Imagery theme: - The imagery of waves illustrates the three major concepts for the Public Art, immigration, communication and recreation.
1. Waves of immigration and the early passages made to America by boat.
2. Waves of electronic communication that underlie our daily human dialogue through digital means.
3. Waves of the Rainier Beach shore on Lake Washington, only a stroll away from the CBD of Beach Square.

How the ARTWORK will be realized:
(an edited version of the presentation)

My concept design proposed artwork is 'in dialogue' with the wave pattern represented in the proposed entryway 'hardscape' paving (Nakano and Assoc.) and which act to direct a patron's arrival to the library entry from the re-developed plaza below, adjacent to Rainier Avenue South. The art will guide one to the library destination: a storehouse of knowledge and treasure trove of resources! 

Proposed Ceramic Wall Relief for the exterior wall of the Community Meeting Room, facing Rainier Avenue South. 

In Design Team Consultation meetings it has been determined that artwork on this wall should be of a scale that engages both pedestrians and vehicular traffic in signifying 'LIBRARY' and marking its new contextual theme identity.

- The tidal-pool wave patterns of the wall relief will rise as a vertical rendition of the shoreline of the entrance plaza paving surface. (Please see site plan)
- The imagery will be both detailed for appreciation at an intimate distance, and bold enough to create a striking pattern from afar.
- It will integrate with, break up and segment the brick veneer cladding the wall. 
- It will variably both respect and intersect the rectangular panels created by the darker colored brick reveals, creating a dynamic with the geometry of the building statement.
- It will be created from durable fired ceramic or a stone resin product and be of an off-white, natural color, selected to both contrast and complement the rich red brick.
- The artwork will have sufficient depth in its relief for visual readability and sculptural quality, yet insufficient to provide an outdoor climbing surface or footholds for youth or vandals.

IMAGERY Detailing:
The relief on the Artwork Wall will make reference to culture, communication and the waterfront. 
  1. "Tidal Pool" Culture
    - Small objects will be gathered during sensitive conversations with community members from different cultural groups -- both general and prized cultural, historic or personal possessions (rather than typical tourist objects). They will be individually cast and returned. 
    - Imagery about identity may also include references to mapping or geography, to add depth and interest.
  2. 2. "Tidal Pool" Language
    -Characters from certain languages (ten or more language groups make up Rainier Beach residents) as well as computer coding and futuristic digital languages will also be created, cast and will intermingle with the other images, forms and objects. 
    - Artifacts about communication, body language or gestures, and hearing-listening may be represented. 
  3. General
    - The above objects will be arranged into the larger wall relief of tidal pools and swirls, and placed with concern for balance, proportion and form. Separate "subject matter themes" will be captured within the different "tidal pools". 
    - Shells or textile patterning will represent the underlying interconnectedness theme. 
    - Natural rock formations and sinuous sea creatures will intermingle with the rest of the art imagery.

The Unfolding Puzzle of Global Geometry and Economy

SITE: Australia’s Industry World, Port Kembla, NSW

July 2002

Low budget artwork as an entry in a competition of ten finalists, with donated steel from BHP-Billiton.
  • 10 mm steel plate
  • 1 M “icosa” equilateral triangles
  • Stainless steel bead for map
  • Photo-voltaic (solar) panel, battery, lights,
  • Stainless steel bead for map
  • an enamel paint/patina.
With thanks to my assistants: Stan Gielewski, Graham Bartholomew, North Wollongong Tertiary Adult Further Education (T.A.F.E) college: steel fabrication department.
Thanks to the kind permission of The Buckminster Fuller Institute, U.S.A., 2002.

Artist statement

My sculpture represents Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion TM World Map, developed with cartographer Shoji Sadao in 1956. It was the first world projection to show continents on a flat surface without visible distortion. This map illustrated the true proportions of each continent, including Australia! Fuller also wanted to show that the earth is ‘one island in one ocean’ and that we are all interconnected.
This map folds neatly into a globe!
I grew up climbing all over domes and rolling inside domes as a child…
because, my father’s life was inspired by the ideas of Buckminster Fuller, since 1967 and the Montreal World’s Fair on Canada’s 100th anniversary of confederation. Buckminster Fuller is the inventor of the geodesic dome and he was a key innovator of the twentieth century who pioneered basic geometric shapes in design.
The post-millennium is an era of increased globalisation and the public listing of BHP Steel’s “Inspired Solutions” branding program is a part of what this sculpture competition celebrates.
This is a good time to reflect upon Fuller’s quest to find a solution to “alternative strategies for integrating all phases and states of energy resources…in relation to the new BHP mission.
BHP formulates products which help flood victims in Thailand, 2001, and they make a very different steel product for an optical plant in India, 2002. BHP does an annual “Clean Up” day as a part of ‘the way BHP does business’ to assist the environment.
My addition of the photo-voltaic (solar) panel on the sculpture represents a personal desire to support new technological solutions for the ecology of the planet, such as to remedy global warming.
There are small ½ inch holes drilled in the map at particular locations. These represent the BHP cities of export and the reach of its global production. At night, these dots are the spots of light powered by the little solar panel.
The map is partly folded in a playful rendition of the continued puzzle of solving humanity's major problems by world visionaries, humanitarians and futurists.
With thanks to my assistants: Stan Gielewski, Graham Bartholomew, North Wollongong Tertiary Adult Further Education (T.A.F.E) college: steel fabrication department and Wollongong photo-media artist and retired metallurgist, Kälev Mäeväli.