Sylvia Hyman studied art at Albright Art School in Buffalo, New York, and earned her BS in art education from Buffalo State College. She became an art teacher in the New York public school system before moving to Kentucky, and in 1960 moved to Nashville, Tennessee. It was in Kentucky that Hyman began working with clay when a potter's wheel and kiln were donated to the high school at which she taught. With the help of a local German-trained potter, Hyman learned basic throwing and glazing techniques. She continued her studies, both technical and in the history of ceramics, while in graduate school and at workshops offered through the American Crafts Council. Hyman left teaching in 1971 to focus on her art full time. Although later in life she became legally blind, Hyman continued to create sculptural ceramic pieces for commission and exhibition in her Nashville studio with the help of two assistants.