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An Artist’s InSight: An Interview with Lynda McKinney Lambert

An ornate beaded talisman lies on a white surface. It is adorned with onyx, seafoam green and pink stones, and many other cool-hued beads and stones. The beads cascade down in thin tassels from the bottom of the talisman, and a beaded wire connects to both of its upper corners.

International Women’s Month, observed annually during the month of March, is a global celebration highlighting the achievements, contributions, and challenges faced by women around the world. The InSights Art team spoke with Lynda McKinney Lambert, longtime winner of the APH InSights Art competition, about her artistic journey in honor of exceptional women.

Meet Lynda

Lynda lives in Wurtemburg, Pennsylvania, just outside of Ellwood City. “My ancestors go back here for generations,” Lynda said. “I’ve traveled around the world and worked in many places, but this has always been home.” Initially just wanting to take a few classes she quickly decided to pursue a degree, completing a BFA in painting from Slippery Rock University. Lynda went on to receive her MFA at West Virginia University, while also completing her MA in English at Slippery Rock. While working at the Hoyt Art Center in Pennsylvania, Lynda was contacted by Geneva College in Beaver Falls, where she obtained a tenured teaching position.

Lynda’s Encrusted Beadwork

Each year, Lynda submits intricate encrusted beadwork pieces to the InSights Art Competition. She said the transition from painting to beadwork “began to happen right before I lost my sight. I was shopping with my daughter at a craft store and asked her if she could teach me how to make a necklace.”

An ornate beaded talisman rests gently on a black neck mannequin. It is adorned with onyx, seafoam green and pink stones, and many other cool-hued beads and stones. The beads cascade down in thin tassels from the bottom of the talisman, and a beaded wire connects to both of its upper corners.

Lynda began to lose her sight rapidly because of ischemic optic neuropathy and didn’t know if she’d make art again. However, a low vision specialist in Pittsburgh, PA at The Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services told her she would certainly make art again, stating, “you can do whatever you want to do.” This gave Lynda the encouragement to try something different with her art. “With the aid of a CCTV, I could begin making mixed-media fiber artworks for the first time. Instead of painting with brushes and paints on canvas, I started to use a thin needle. And my canvas is now created with encrusted bead working techniques; I paint with a needle and tiny beads and gemstones. I want my work to say, ‘take your time and come closer. I have something wonderful to show you.’”

Lynda’s Inspiration

Lynda has participated in the InSights Art competition for nine years. She recalled, “The first artwork I submitted was a small beadwork piece. I had gathered river stones while I was canoeing with my husband and found fabric. I wanted to reflect what it’s like looking down into the water with the sunshine and trees reflecting.” Her encrusted beadwork pieces often place high in the InSights competition; her 2022 entry, Christine de Pisan’s Prayer, won first place in the Craft Category.

“Prayer is a really important part of my life, and while I work on things, I’m usually praying for someone or something.” She continued, “I guess this started in graduate school. When I was making art, it was like a nonverbal prayer. The act of making the art takes a lot of faith, because you have no idea what the outcome will be!”

Other Exciting Projects

The InSights Art Competition has helped Lynda make connections. Currently, she and winning InSights Artist Carol Ann Farnsworth are collaborating on an exciting year-long project that the pair hopes publish once complete. “Carol and I create a postcard to send out each day to each other. We author a poem on the postcard that we created for that day, and we must create artwork on the back of the postcard, too.” Through this project, they want to inspire other blind artists and writers to step out of their comfort zones and collaborate. “Carol and I are learning so much in this process,” Lynda said. “Every day, we have something to discuss, or a problem to resolve, or something new to try.”

Lynda is also gearing up for National Poetry Month this April. Her seventh book is coming out, titled, Each Day Holds Some Small Joy. It is a book of nature-themed poems in haiku, tanka, and free form. According to Lynda, this has been in the works for three years after a peer told her that she ought to compile each poem into a collection of works. There are 140 poems total.

For other blind and low vision artists, Lynda advises, “It is so important for us to not look back on our former life or work so much, but to face the future and plan new and exciting and challenging projects. We can use our blindness as a starting place to jump off into the world that is waiting to welcome us in new ways.”


To learn more about this artist, visit Lynda’s art and poetry Facebook page.

I Only have Eyes for You, pictured, won First Place in the Craft Category during the 2020 InSights Art Exhibition in Louisville, KY. You can read more about the InSights Art Competition by visiting the InSights website or joining the InSights Facebook group.

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