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About the Artist

Valery Lyman has an extensive background in documentary film, working for 20 years as a sound recordist, cinematographer and director. She was a location sound-mixer on films for 4 years, mastering what she felt was an underrated yet crucial element of filmmaking. She went on to become the Director of Photography for numerous independent documentary film and television works including the hit indie documentary Fresh (2009), and Always (2006). She worked with the embed longform unit of ABC News for 6 years, filming 41 hours of award winning verite documentary, encountering the exquisite fleetingness of life on a daily basis and other strange worlds she may never have sought on her own. Lyman’s directorial debut, One of These Mornings (2010), a short film portrait of the 2008 election narrated by voicemail messages from voters across the country, was exhibited in the Museo Nazionale delle Arti XXI Del Secolo in Rome in 2014.


Valery’s enduring interest in short, impressionistic works, unencumbered by the narrative imperative, landed her at the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard in 2014 to study and work with the renowned filmmaker Lucien Castaing-Taylor. In an era of video proliferation, the power of holding still has grown for her. She has begun to work with photographs and audio separately, in an impulse to break the time-based visual-aural bind and allow each more textural integrity. This new work is heavily contingent on immersion and wandering, and invites the body into the experience of film.


Lyman has published photo essays in The Guardian, the LA Times and The Christian Science Monitor from her work in the oil fields of North Dakota, and opened seven solo exhibits showcasing the same work in industrial sites across the country. She has been invited to give numerous artist talks including at MIT, Harvard, Tufts, Emerson College, Simmons College, the University of Buffalo, Just Buffalo Literary Center, Living Arts of Tulsa, the Boston Camera Club, the Doc Summit, Connect the Docs, the New England Media Coalition, Mass Art and the University of Reno.


Lyman was a Film Studies Center Fellow at Harvard University and a Creative Arts Initiative resident with the University of Buffalo. In 2015 she helped found AgX, a collaborative dedicated to photo-chemical and alternative filmmaking, in Waltham, MA. Lyman has spent much of the last year on the border for National Geogrpahic, and currently resides in the desert hills of northwestern Nevada where she is working on a new body of photographs, phonographs and writings. 

Breaking Ground benefits from the generous support of: 

The Film Study Center at Harvard
The Creative Arts Initiative, University of Buffalo
Cambridge Arts Council
Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council

Nevada Arts Council
National Endowment for the Arts

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