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Cynthia Lin

Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing

Cynthia Lin was born in Taiwan, grew up near Chicago, Illinois, and now lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Awards include a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and New York Foundation for the Arts Finalist in Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts. Recent solo shows include Westchester Community College, College of William and Mary, and Drew University. Group exhibitions in New York include Drawing Center, The National Academy of Design, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Yossi Milo Gallery, Equity Gallery, Michael Steinberg Gallery, Garvey Simon, Onishi Gallery, Garis & Hahn Gallery, Pierogi Gallery, ISE Cultural Foundation, Adam Baumgold Gallery, Dorsky Gallery, and Kentler Drawing International. She has also shown at DeCordova Museum and Weatherspoon Art Museum. Collections include Minneapolis Institute of Art and Dallas Museum of Art.

Residency fellowships include MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, The Space Program at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Blue Mountain Center, Dora Maar House, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Visiting Artists and Scholars Program at the American Academy in Rome, and Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus II in Schwandorf, Germany.

More About Me

I find that the longer I look at something, the more it changes– enriched by personal experience, culture, and history. Prolonged engagement, by the depiction of mesmerizing surfaces, becomes a metaphor for how cultural conflict can give way to multiple translations that embrace ambiguity and unfamiliar views. Thus examining an exterior skin can yield interior discovery, given openness and attention. The challenges and unique insights of my experiences as an Asian-American woman drive me to create an “in-between” space to adapt to contradictory and irreconcilable aspects of the world.

Based on distinctive topographies, ranging from satellite images of Earth and Venus, these images consider current concerns, including climate change, the United States border, cultural biases, and threats to privacy. Faithfully recorded details, however, are subjected to processes that lead to unexpected connections. Factual maps are reinterpreted through large-scale ambitious technical procedures, ranging from meditative tracing to distorted imprints. The result is “data” that is in turn preserved, reinforced, disrupted, and reimagined. This dense accumulation produces Rorschach tests that invite alternate interpretations.

A NASA photo of lava flows on the planet Venus suggest multiple interpretations: a werewolf face or neuron activity uncovered by archaeological scratchboard process; imagined temperature zones that reflect concern for climate catastrophe on Earth; yellow-green light of military night vision surveillance; contradictory colors vibrating in an irreconcilable space that evokes a polarized United States. Such “misinterpretations” reflect experiences only known on Earth, thus calling attention to our inescapable biases.

The United States border is alternately pictured: a California desert blazes across Mexico; oblivious to the Canadian border, a frozen Lake Superior becomes a fragile winged creature, and in another version, the creature floats across a fractured world.

Research Interests

Painting and drawing based on fraught topographies of skin, Earth, and other planets.

Representative Courses

Working from the Photograph

Junior Studio

The Figure in Art

Figure Drawing I

Large-Scale Figure Drawing

Foundation Drawing