artist page

Status message

Your information has been submitted.

  Printer Friendly Version

Sylvia Hyman

Biography to Display: 

1917 Born Buffalo, New York

2012 Died Nashville, Tennessee



1938    BS Education: Buffalo State College (then New York State Teachers College at Buffalo), Buffalo, New York

1963    MA Art Education: Peabody College for Teachers (now Peabody College of Vanderbilt College), Nashville, Tennessee



Art Teacher



Sylvia Hyman is known for hyper-realistic, trompe l’oeil, porcelain hand built sculptures. Hyman uses everyday objects as her subjects—books, notepads, keys, purses, etc. Assembled into narrative compositions, these objects were decorated, finished and combined to form a still life.

Hyman used tools as needed. Among these were molds and an electric slab roller. The slab roller allowed her to create trompe l’oeil paper with its thickness precisely made to the scale of the finished sculpture. The techniques used to create realistic surface details of each component were achieved by combining or inventing multiple techniques as needed. Among these were screen printing images or text and the applications of slips or glazes. Hyman innovated approaches to convincingly create wooden crates, brown paper bags, rolled up blue prints, nails, screws, etc. These are just some of the objects combined by Hyman to create a sculpture and engage the viewer in the discovery of its unexpected content.

Hyman was an art teacher in the New York Public School System and the Peabody College for Teachers.

In 1973, Hyman represented the USA in the first United States International Ceramics Symposium (ICS) in Memphis, Tennessee. The Symposium honored twenty-five artists representing thirteen countries. In 1994 Hyman received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. A retrospective exhibit of her work was held in 1995 at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.


Public Collections

Public Collections to Display: 

American Museum of Ceramic Arts, Pomona, California

Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, Czech Republic

Renwick Gallery, Washington D.C.

Saga Prefectural Museum, Saga, Japan

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee


Bibliography to Display: 

DeMay, Susan. “Sylvia Hyman: Fooling the Eye.” Ceramics Art and Perception, 2009.

Layer, Aiden. “Sylvia Hyman.” Tennessee Arts Commission: Permanent Collection.

Ribar, David. “Sylvia Hyman.” Ceramics Monthly, Oct. 2002, pg 51-54.

“Sylvia Hyman: Fictional Clay.” Frist Art Museum, 2007.

“Sylvia Hyman.” Smithsonian American Art Museum.




Center for CraftCenter For Craft



AMOCA American Museum of Ceramic ArtAMOCA American Museum of Ceramic Art


Typical Marks

“Sylvia Hyman” inscribed

Date: 1975
Method: Hand-Built
American Museum of Ceramic Art, gift of The American Ceramic Society, 2004.2.153
Photo: TMP
American Museum of Ceramic Art, gift of The American Ceramic Society, 2004.2.153
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP

Citation: Beul, Jasmine. "The Marks Project." Last modified May 27, 2023.