Mosser recently became sentimental and interested in history
so much so, that she hangs onto bits and pieces from her everyday
life and incorporates them into the ground of her mixed-media work.
Cynthia, a native Portlander, is an adjunct faculty member in the
Foundation Department of the Art Institute of Portland.
Ecstasy of St. Cream Puff," mixed media.
Cynthia Mosser's subject matter is a product of her obsession with
shapes, doilies and intense colors.
"I learned to play around with shapes a couple years ago and
enjoyed the freedom," she said. "The possibilities seem
The shapes Cynthia uses are influenced by Portland's natural environment,
the intense colors are a reaction to what's missing from it.
"The round form makes me happy, so I'm sticking with what
makes me happy."
Cynthia uses a combination of collage, paint and wax. She starts
with a traditionally gessoed panel, adds collage using old letters,
love notes, photographs, exhibition cards and airline tags, paints
over it, sometimes sands it down, paints over it again and then
layers encaustic medium and oil paint over the top.
"It is a definite process that requires patience," she
Conversation (blue)," pastel drawing.
Drawing is Cynthia's first love because of its immediacy.
"There's an element of freedom and spontaneity with drawing
because it's quick and elemental," she said. "I'm not
saying all drawings are quickly executed, it's just that charcoal
or Conté crayon are so much more readily present than paint.
I'm also someone who loves line, so drawing with charcoal or Conté
crayon are natural media for me."
Though it has taken her more time to understand color and application,
Cynthia is now beginning to enjoy painting on a level equal to that
In the balance
Nature influences Cynthia's art; Europe inspires it.
Green," pastel drawing.
"My inspiration is also my level of contentment," she
said. "Doing art on a consistent basis makes me feel ecstatic.
It's something I have to do to maintain balance; otherwise I walk
as though I am leaning and literally off-kilter."
Cynthia is represented by the Marghitta Feldman Gallery on Northwest
Eleventh and Marshall in the Pearl District, and the Rental Sales
Gallery at the Portland Art Museum. This month Cynthia's work is
included in "The Exquisite Corpse Exhibit" at the Art
Institute of Portland.
Future exhibits include an October show at the Washington State
University Gallery in Vancouver and an April 2005 show at the Marghitta
Working in silence
With an artist father and a photographer mother, Cynthia's exposure
to and attempts at art began at a young age.
"Art was always something in which I excelled," she said.
"Particularly finger painting in pre-school I had a
talent for it early on."
A high school beginning photography class grabbed Cynthia's interest;
particularly abstract black-and-white photography and working in
the silence of the darkroom.
To Cynthia, photography seemed more about composition than anything
else, and that seemed easy for her.
"My senior year I worked as a yearbook photographer, but I
never took photography seriously as though it might be a career
I did know, however, I was good at it," she said. "Later,
at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., I managed the student
darkroom and worked as a photographer for the creative arts newspaper,
Upon her arrival at Whitman College, Cynthia's freshman college
advisor, an art history professor, insisted she take a course from
him. Cynthia had never even considered majoring in art, but continued
taking art history classes simply because she found them interesting.
"It wasn't until my junior year that my biology and pre-med
major just didn't fulfill any kind of inner need, so I switched
to art history," she said. "I took studio art classes
to fulfill requirements for the degree.
"Studio art was the most fun I had at college. I also remember
the studio art professor, Keiko Hara, talking about art in a really
extemporaneous manner. When she spoke, I didn't want her to stop.
It was if I couldn't get enough."
Cynthia knew art was what she wanted, and art history seemed practical
in terms of a career choice, so she stuck with it.
In addition to studying art, Cynthia earned a minor in biology.
She spent two years looking through a microscope at plant and animal
cells and a semester in marine biology peering at microscopic plankton
forms and interestingly shaped and colored sea anemones. That element
of biology has infused itself into her work.
But deep down Cynthia knew fine art was what she really craved.
"A few years after I graduated from Whitman, I decided to
take fine art seriously, so I attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn,
N.Y.," she said.
Leaf Salmon," pastel drawing.
Goal to go
Having finished her work at Pratt, Cynthia woke up one morning and
decided she had to go to Europe again. On a whim, she chose Prague.
"Some friends told me it was culturally rich, and I knew I
could live there legally and survive by using my Teaching English
as a Second Language certificate," she said. "So I bought
a ticket and went."
Cynthia's main goal was to allow herself to become an artist.
"I'd lived in Europe before, in Paris and Geneva, and I knew
how to maneuver around," she said. "When I arrived in
Prague, I walked to the center, bought a newspaper and started calling
English-language schools. Within one week I'd found a place to live,
within two weeks I started teaching English."
Woogie," mixed media.
But six months later, Cynthia still hadn't done any art, because
she was still in survival mode. So she started painting and painting
"I put together a portfolio of fun fashion illustrations and
called English- and Czech-language publications and asked if they
needed any illustrators," she said. "All of them said
yes, so I brought down my portfolio.
"In a week I got my first freelance illustration job at the
The jobs just kept coming.
Affirming and exhilarating
Cynthia also had her black-and-white photographs from Pratt that
she wanted to exhibit. She asked the Globe Café if she could
have a show; the owner said yes.
Hands IV," pastel drawing.
She created assemblage art at her studio, and toward the end of
her year-and-a-half stay, had a well-publicized studio exhibition.
"Europe has a culture and environment that takes art seriously,"
she said. "There's a level of respect for artists and an overall
embracing of creativity and design within everyday life that for
an artist is truly affirming and exhilarating. An example might
be a restaurant owner's willingness to incorporate a hand-blown
drinking glass in a dinner service or the gratuitous use of color
in a café."
Europe also gave Cynthia time and space away from other influences
in the States.
"Time in Europe seems luxurious and spacious and all encapsulating,"
she said. "You can read a book or cook a meal all day and feel
as though there is nothing else you should be doing."
When she was ready, Cynthia came back to the U.S.A.
"The opportunity here is so immense," she said.
(orange/green)," mixed media.
Cynthia's dream is to continually improve her technique and the
quality of her work, sell more of it, expand into different locales
and gain national recognition.
"I would like to find a dealer in a new region and get a heavy-hitting
artist residency and grant," she said.
"I would also like to live and exhibit in Europe again. It
is my spiritual home, particularly Brno in the Czech Republic.
"Feel the fear and do it anyway!"