Cynthia Walker SWJ 2020

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Artist Bio/Statement

I was raised in Oregon and took art classes in high school. I worked as a fabric artist while attending college and exhibited and sold domestically. I studied Urban Geography and later obtained an MBA. After college, I stopped art making and set out to save the world.   From 1974-2012, I worked as a land use planner (Portland, Or) and then in health care management, both domestically (Oregon, Idaho, California, and Washington) and internationally (Romania, Afghanistan, Philippines, and Bhutan). When not working or traveling overseas, for the last 30 years I have lived in a home overlooking Zangle Cove on Puget Sound near Olympia, WA. During my travels, I would always visit art museums and galleries and collected art of others. I once told a friend that if I were not trying to change the world that I would want to be a landscape painter. Fast forward to forty years later.

In 2006, as a retreat from often stressful overseas work, I took a watercolor workshop from Molly Hashimoto at the North Cascades Institutes.  My husband and I moved to Laos in 2008 and I commuted to work projects in the states and other countries. In between work assignments, I would move from window to window in our modern yet traditional Laos home (wooden on stilts) and paint watercolor scenes of the neighborhood below. In 2010 two of my paintings were accepted into the Women’s Fine Arts Exhibition at the National Cultural Hall in Vientiane.

After we returned to the states in late 2010, we started a major house remodeling project, including a studio for me. When the project was finished, I was rehanging a large abstract watercolor by Carole Barnes that we had purchased years before. I wondered if she was still alive and taught classes. I looked her up and found that she was going to be teaching a workshop focusing on abstraction using acrylics. In October 2013, I spent a week in a workshop with her on the east coast. Here I learned to experiment, about layering and that what you take away can be as important as what you put down. Note: when I obtained my MBA, my husband knew about my interest in art and bought me a large bin of acrylic paints for my graduation gift. They sat in storage unused until that workshop!

The works in this show reflect the impact of climate change: smoke from fires impacting the view of islands across from my home and from walking on melting glaciers during a trip to Alaska. I often look to the natural world for inspiration. I try to capture the light, color, shapes, texture and mood of the landscape. I also enjoy the spontaneity and mystery of working abstractly and intuitively. While I primarily paint with watercolor and acrylics, I have also experimented with monotype. And recently, I have started to use fabric (much saved from my early art fabric days) to create hand sewn abstract boxes and quilts.

In 2015 I entered my first juried show in the states. Since then I have been accepted into juried shows with the Olympia Art League (2015-2019), Northwest Watercolor Society (2017), Healdsburg Center for the Arts (2019) and the Emerald Art Center Annual Juried Painting Competition (2020).

I half-jokingly say that I worked for nearly 40 years trying to save the world—and that obviously did not work—so I decided to revisit more intensely a long-time love. Art is my meditation; a brief break from the challenging times we live in. When I look at artwork of others, and sometimes even my own, I am often mesmerized. I have traveled extensively, but this late-life art journey is just as absorbing and exciting.