MFA ’20 Fine Arts Low-Residency
Cynthia Zeman makes paintings that are colorful, pretty and humorous. They contain personal memories and societal issues around women, politics and the contemporary media. Collaging divergent images from high art, pop-culture, personal family photos, advertising, to funny baby goat videos from the internet, sticker books and hair curler packaging, the jumbled compositions have a cohesive unity in their discordance – much like real life. Her work emphasizes and exaggerates concepts of perfection and beauty in femininity. Contemporary “unladylike” women challenge and subvert stereotypes and expected behavior that is taught in childhood. Her recent series of Girl painting are inspired by the Dick and Jane books that teach children to read, and thus signify the point at which children, and girls in particular, can begin to see and query the larger world around them. The resulting images offer multiple interpretations of social and personal narratives, and some urgent responses to the political moment in which they are produced. Zeman’s curtain paintings are a reminder of previous eras of conventional feminine skills, in addition to referencing blackout and performance curtains. They also raise questions about what is left out, what we don’t see, and what we avoid thinking about. What is recognized and really seen? What is ignored? To what do we willing consent? What is made visible when we revisit the past? Cynthia Zeman is interested in capturing these everyday paradoxes and recognizing the past as part of our lives today.