UI student strives to connect psychology and art

A UI student imagines a world in which art and therapy dance.


Thomas A. Stewart

Kaylie Lyons poses for a portrait on Saturday, August 18th, 2018. “These aren’t major projects, I just did them for fun,” Lyons says. She is a psychology major with an art minor. (Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

Brooke Clayton , Arts Reporter

“Art is a compulsion” for University of Iowa junior Kaylie Lyons.

Her habit is inked in leather-bound black notebooks. For her, the most tedious media are the most comforting: stippling, cross-hatching. She flipped to a once-blank page where a bouquet of flowers outlined in light pencil are beginning to bloom from the center outward in dark ink, deliberately designed one black dot at a time.

Lyons blocks out an hour each day to create something, even if it will never leave her leather notebooks. She knows the therapeutic value of art, and it’s a gift she wants to share with the world.

She works at Prelude Behavioral Services, where people facing substance abuse find relief through art and music, and she plans to apply to Ph.D. programs once she completes a B.S. in psychology. Eventually, she would like to earn the opportunity to run her own private practice in art therapy.

Kaylie Lyons’ art displayed on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. “These aren’t major projects, I just did them for fun,” Lyons said. She is a psychology major with an art minor. (Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

“I think people are fascinating,” Lyons said. “And I think being able to read people’s faces is fascinating — so being able to draw that is super cool.”

The influence of psychology on her art is clear in the pensive portraits she loves, the detail of the eyes she’s been obsessively perfecting since eighth grade. With financial assistance covering her tuition, she believes that the ability to practice art in a classroom while earning a minor in fine arts is a privilege and a blessing that she refuses to take for granted.

Being at the forefront of art education and creation, she believes that this moment in time is truly a “renaissance of art,” with the influence of social media and digital art making it easier than ever to have an audience. She often shares her art on Instagram and says she keeps up with her main influences, such as Lucy Ford, online.

 “It’s like a worldwide critique,” Lyons said. “You’re constantly surrounded by people who are helping you get better and inspiring you to do new things.”

With a new iPad under her wing, Lyons hopes to tackle the world of graphic design next, diving into the digital age of art.

“It gets me really excited,” she said. “And scared.”

Hometown: Des Moines
Year in School: Junior
Age: 20
Top artist she listens to: Bon Iver
Dream place to live: Oregon
Dream place to work: Private art-therapy practice
Favorite place for a late-night bite: Taco John’s (Potato Olés)
Favorite movie: Ladybird
Last song stuck in her head: “One of Them” (G Eazy)
Instagram: @kayliely1

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