After a nearly fatal accident left him unable to fall into REM sleep, Dylan Lipsker’s art became his path to recovery.
“I guess you could say my art came out of mental necessity,” he said.
Lipsker has only been showing his work publicly for the past three years, but he explained, his story began another 10 years back when an afternoon out riding ATVs with friends took a dangerous turn.
Going around a turn Lipsker was thrown from the vehicle before colliding with a tree and then falling over the side of a hill.
His head took the brunt of the initial impact with the tree. After the fall, he had several broken and fractured bones in addition to internal damage to various organs. But the worst of it was less physical.
“My sleep was thrown off, and, for a while, I really didn’t have the tools to deal with that,” he said, explaining that his initial coping strategies only ended up making him feel worse. His body had healed, but his mind was still suffering.
After the accident, Lipsker worked designing and installing acrylic kitchen countertops. Working in someone else’s home is always going to be difficult, he said, but working in someone’s kitchen – that is, the heart of any home – is especially so. You can stay out of a guest room, but a kitchen?
His days were tedious, nights seemed endless and, at a certain point, he realized that the stress of damage control had far outweighed the joy of creation.
“I didn’t know what I needed,” he said.
But a change of direction was long overdue.
He quit his job and resolved to start using his time differently, creating art differently. And with all the leftover crafting materials he had lying around, he knew just where to start.
“I stayed in that night and just started playing with the product,” he said, describing the various infused resin projects and resin-sealed paintings he has experimented with over the years.
“Life was frustrating,” he said. “Everybody else was asleep, and I’m just wide awake fixating on what I wished was different. Then all of a sudden, after that first night of painting – playing, really – I fell in love with it.”
A few years back, his family and friends finally convinced him to start showing his art.
“It was in a little restaurant here on the South Hill, Gordy’s Sichuan Cafe,” he said. “I’d worked there a few years earlier, so it was a place that I was comfortable with.
“So, I hung my art. And just sat in the back at the little chef’s table, listening. I never said anything, but I think by the end of the night, people realized that the guy with a giant grin on his face was the one who did the art.”
Today, Lipsker shows his work in several permanent locations, including the Liberty Building in downtown and LiveForBlu Gallery in Coeur d’Alene.
For the past few years, Lipsker has continued honing his skills, picking up ideas and experimenting with new materials. And with every new step along the way, the fulfillment and validation he felt that first night continue.
“Nighttime, the most frustrating aspect of life, is now my time,” he said. Sleep might still be just as rare. But his art has given him “a whole new way to dream.”
For more information, visit dlipart.com or spokanearts.org/artists/dylan-lipsker.
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