Noted Central Kentucky artist Carolyn Young Hisel, 75, whose paintings were shown in more than 20 solo exhibits, died Tuesday.
Hisel was a Lexington native who graduated from Henry Clay High School and the University of Kentucky.
She and her husband, architect Alan Hisel, lived for two years in England, where Carolyn taught art to primary students at the John Evelyn School in London. The couple returned to Lexington to raise their family in 1966.
Her son Daniel Hisel said his mother’s thoughts were consumed by “art and poetry and friends and God.”
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When it came to painting, “there was no off switch for Mom,” he said.
Hisel’s art, he said, was inseparable from her faith. She was a member of Lexington Primitive Baptist Church.
“One of the things that most inspired her was an attempt to try to capture a kind of holy light, a spiritual light,” he said. “It became more and more central to what she did.”
At the time of her death, her son said Hisel had been working on paintings for a show this fall that would focus on the loss of her younger sister, Pat Nickell, who died in March.
“I look at the world and see mankind who struggles, like I, to understand, to live,” Hisel told a Herald-Leader arts writer in 1994. “Rooted in my work is an impulse to communicate about this, and fundamentally the paintings express a faith and a hope found within that.”
The people she painted usually had a frail appearance and a pale, apparition-like skin tone.
“I’m not concerned with the exterior of the body, like how we are portrayed through magazines or television,” Hisel said. “I’m interested in painting the interior, the soul.”
In addition to her husband and son Daniel, she is survived by another son, Matthew Hisel of Portland, Ore.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Main Street in Lexington. Visitation will begin at noon.