For nearly three decades, Linda Taylor was a career-driven woman. But even as her professional experience in urban housing and social services grew, Taylor never relinquished her passion for the arts.
After leaving her job as a planning manager in 1999, Taylor, who studied silversmithing and art education in college, fell back on her skills as an artist and her love of the natural world.
Those passions are readily apparent in Taylor's latest exhibit, an 18-piece display at the . Taylor, an award-winning clay sculptor and photographer, creates free-form tile sculptures and reproduces photographs on watercolor paper. The subjects of Taylor's exhibited work range from water lilies to ducks floating on Minnehaha Creek. No matter the topic, however, Taylor hopes the images will cause viewers to stop and appreciate their natural surroundings.
"I think beauty sustains people," said Taylor, a Lakeville resident. "I would find my work successful if people saw beauty there and then began looking at the natural world ... a little differently."
Taylor, who twice received awards for her work at the Minnesota State Fair and has participated in numerous juried art shows, said her own artistic drive and appreciation for beauty helped sustain her through a difficult period in her life.
In 2001, two years after Taylor left her social services job and began focusing on art, she suffered a lingering brain injury in a bicycling accident. The injury, which affected Taylor's sympathetic nervous system, left her with muscle loss and other medical issues.
Unable to throw clay on a potter's wheel, Taylor's art began to evolve, as she explored different media, forms and more abstract imagery. The artist began producing three-dimensional clay tiles and developed a method of imprinting photo-like images onto clay surfaces. Eventually, a series of surgeries in 2005 reversed many of Taylor's latent medical issues, and Taylor was able to return to traditional clay-throwing, as well.
“I feel extremely lucky and fortunate that I was able to reclaim my life [after the accident], and not only reclaim my life, but reclaim a productive enjoyable life," said Taylor, who works out of an extensive workshop in the basement of her home.
Taylor, who says she has moved past the bicycling accident, is now a dedicated, prolific artist and a member of the Handmade Tile Association, the Society of Minnesota Sculptors, the Savage Arts Council and the Burnsville Visual Arts Society.
“It's so easy to get caught up in your everyday life, and you apply importance to your career and earning and income and making a difference," Taylor said. "But really I think you sometimes lose sight of things that are really important, which are your family and the natural world, and how to live your life."
Taylor's work is located in a hallway to the left of the Eagan Community Center main entrance. For more information, call the community center main desk at (651) 675-5550.