About me

GYÖNGY LAKY ‘s sculptural forms are exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States.  Internationally, her work has been included in exhibitions in Canada, Denmark, Sweden, England, Holland, Spain, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, Columbia, Philippines, Japan and China. Laky has participated in the US Federal Art in Embassies Program in Bangkok, Thailand; NATO, Brussels, Belgium; and Poland. In addition to one-person exhibitions in the U.S., she has had solo exhibitions in England, Denmark, Hungary and Spain. She is also known for her outdoor site-specific installations which have occurred in the US, Canada, England, France, Austria, Bulgaria and Italy.

A past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Award of Distinction, 11th International Triennial of Tapestry, Central Museum of Textiles, Lodz, Poland; and Award for Artistic Excellence, Women in the Arts, The Women’s Foundation, San Francisco, CA, Laky was also one of the first textile artists to be commissioned by the Federal Art-in-Architecture Program.   Her work is in many permanent collections including the San Francisco MOMA, The Smithsonian’s Renwick Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum, the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu and others (see “Collections”). 

In 2002-03, she was one of a team of three to develop a comprehensive Arts Master Plan for the new state-of-the-art, US Federal Food and Drug Administration campus being built in Maryland. In 2003, a book, “Portfolio Series: Gyöngy Laky,” was published by Telos Arts Publishing, UK, and the Bancroft Library at UC, Berkeley, released her oral history. Her personal papers are in the Smithsonian Institution‘s Archives of American Art, Washington, DC. Laky’s art has appeared in numerous books, magazines and catalogs in the US and abroad. April 2008, the New York Times Magazine commissioned her to create titles for its environmental issue (the titles received an award from the Type Directors Club).

Laky was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1944 and emigrated to the United States as a small child.  She graduated from Carmel High School and completed undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley (1967-1971). Postgraduate work followed with the UC Professional Studies Program in India.  Upon her return, she founded the internationally recognized Fiberworks, Center for the Textile Arts, in  Berkeley, with accredited undergraduate and graduate programs.  As of 2005, Laky is Professor Emeritus of UC, Davis, (chair, Dept of Art mid-1990s). She joined the faculty at UCD in 1978 and soon after initiated establishing the independent Department of Environmental Design. In the early 1990’s she developed a graduate program.

The Work

Through material choices and subject selection Laky’s sculptural, linear constructions of wood, wire, screws, nails and occasional unexpected items, engage subjects of particular and on-going concern to her. Her activism was encouraged early during studies in art and design at UC Berkeley. As an environmentalist, her work often employs materials harvested from nature and agricultural sources with some recycled elements incorporated. She is attracted to humble materials and simple, direct methods of hand construction that she associates with basic, grass roots, human ingenuity about making things. Laky has been a strong advocate for the establishment of an environmental sustainability curriculum in design and art at UC Davis. Other themes of her sculptures and site-specific works touch upon various issues including gender-equity and her opposition to the war in Iraq. These subjects are often presented through her language sculptures. For the final several years as a faculty member of UC Davis, Laky dedicated much of her time to increasing the numbers of women academics and to diversifying the ranks of tenure track faculty throughout the University of California statewide.


“Laky’s inquisitive bent has enabled her, and encouraged her, to reach across forms and genres, and it is the connections in her art-writ large and writ small-that make it as engaging, exciting, provoking and beautiful as it is.”

Janet Koplos Senior Editor, Art in America, New York

“Laky has an insatiable appetite to know the world. This fact comes forth clearly in talking to her, listening to her teach and in reading what she has to say. She is one of the most articulate and poetic artists I have ever had the pleasure to know.”

Kenneth R. Trapp Introduction for oral history, The Bancroft Library, UC, Berkeley Curator-in-Charge National Museum of American Art Renwick Gallery Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

“She is first and foremost a sculptor who happens to cross the borders between art, craft, design, engineering, architecture, and agriculture very comfortably.”

Juanita Dugdale

“Gyöngy Laky – Matter and Message”

Baseline, International Typographics Magazine

“She is a master at juxtaposing materials drawn from both natural and industrial processes and at making dissonance work for her.”

James Melchert Professor Emeritus of Art, University of California, Berkeley, and former Director of Visual Arts Program, National Endowment of the Arts

Published online

A presentation about my art and life, hosted by Next Village SF, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpZj4mcZXAw

‘A Transforming Collaboration’, Student/Mentor Collaborations in Foundry and Wood, CSU Chico, Department of Art and Art History, 2019 https://emergentartspace.org/forum/projects/

An article about me at Artbusiness:

My art at b. sakata garo

Braunstein/Quay Gallery

browngrotta arts
http://www.browngrotta.com /Pages/laky.html

http://www.fiberscene.com /artists/g_laky.html

Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY

New York Times Magazine
http://www.nytimes.com/indexes/2008/04/19/magazine/index.html https://www.nytimes.com/video/magazine/1194817116673/green-design.html

Salt Magazine

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian American Art Museum
http://americanart.si.edu /search/artist_bio.cfm?StartRow =1&ID=2767&skip=1&CFID=2610940 &CFTOKEN=15715314 

Smithsonian American Art Museum

http://www.ucdavis.edu/spotligh t/0106/protest_in_prunings.html 

http://design.ucdavis.edu /facstaff/faculty_pages/laky .html 

http://textiles.ucdavis.edu /laky/

UCB Bancroft Library
http://bancroft.berkeley.edu /ROHO/collections/subjectarea /artslit/fiberarts.html