Artist Biography

Cynthia Large

Quaker artist




   I was born in Northern California in 1972, and raised among the redwoods. Between the ages of 15 and 17 I lived in some isolated areas of Utah and tangled with small religious movements and heresies. Curiousity has not yet killed the cat, and the study of both orthodox and heretical faiths continues to inform my work. Theology is combined in my paintings and assemblages with ideas about music and mental illness; these themes form the (sometimes) overlapping spheres of genius, madness, and spiritual ecstasy.
   In 1990 I moved to New York, received my B.F.A. from Parson's School of Design in 1994, and then spent two years in the Netherlands, examining the art and religious upheavals of the late Middle Ages. During this period I studied the techniques of the early Flemish painters, and developed a method of painting based on what I learned.   Egg tempera and oil are my primary mediums; the process is labor intensive, and each painting takes nearly two years to complete. The frames are handmade of various woods, with inlaid marquetry panels, and I often incorporate salvaged piano keys and organ pipes in my work.   In 1999 I received a grant from the Money for Women / Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for my paintings of the composer and pianist Clara Schumann. My current series of paintings, "Holy Mischief", portrays the lives of the most restive and unruly figures in the history of religion.
  I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends, and believe that artistic talent is a gift from God, as all gifts are. I strive, in my daily work, to honor that gift, and to remember the One who bestowed it.
  I currently live in Berkeley.