Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Vanessa Lyon

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: North Bennington, VT
MacDowell Fellowships: 2022

J. V. (Vanessa) Lyon is the author of the novels The Groves (Audible Originals) and Lush Lives, an inaugural title of Roxane Gay Books/Grove Atlantic (August, 2023). Lyon teaches art history at Bennington College where she also directs the Visual Arts Lecture Series. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in the history of art from UC Berkeley and an M.A. in religious studies from the Iliff School of Theology.

Her articles on European paintings, prints, and portraiture have appeared in Art History, Word & Image, the Huntington Library Quarterly, and elsewhere. Recent art historical publications include: Figuring Faith and Female Power in the Art of Rubens (Amsterdam UP, 2020) and, co-authored with Caroline Fowler, “Revision and Reckoning: The Legacy of Slavery in Histories of Northern Art” (JHNA, 2022).

At MacDowell, she drafted approximately 35,000 words of her visual studies memoir-in-progress, Blackness Thirteen Ways: On Finding Myself in Art History, having workshopped earlier chapters as a contributor in nonfiction at Bread Loaf ‘22.

Portrait by Alexa Nikol Curran



Vanessa Lyon worked in the Schelling studio.

Marian MacDowell funded construction of this studio the year that the organization was established and the first artists arrived for residency. It was called Bark Studio until 1933, when it was renamed in honor of Ernest Schelling, a composer, pianist, and orchestral leader who served as president of what was then called the Edward MacDowell…

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