Photography and collage are inextricably aligned, given that most of the collage now created is sourced from photographic imagery. This is the case of Pandemic, a collage which grew out of my emotional conflicts of this past year.
Not long after I rented a studio early in the pandemic, I found the focus of my work shifting. Before the initial business closures and self-isolation, my primary inspiration was intuitive. Yet once life began to fundamentally change, I saw how my emotional response to the times bled onto everything else and my art-making became a place to untangle my questions and conflicting emotions. For several months, I focused entirely on pandemic-related source material, until finally I’d had enough. My bruised soul hungered for more uplifting imagery. Pandemic and another piece called Trust were two early works from this period.
The photographs Gnawa Musicians and Dusk at Erfoud were shot in the ancient, dusty villages of Morocco. They are informed by the character and perplexities of northern Africa.
Throughout my photographic “career,” my subjects ranged from food to feet, the latter being the inspiration for a series documenting feet (and footwear) on public transportation. I especially enjoy pointing my camera at the abundance of unexpected and inspiring imagery that arises while traveling.
My work in collage tends toward an abstraction of representational source imagery. Inclusion of subtle symbolism lends an added element that offers up deeper meaning. Odd bits of lettering and ephemera may also show up, imparting a story-like feel to some of the work. The viewer’s imagination is invited to fill in the blanks of what is not directly expressed.
Meeting every week for our Friday gatherings provided a welcome source of inspiration, social interaction and support during these past months. I am delighted to take part in this exhibition.
About The Artist
Cynthia Ruda credits her degree in art education for preparing her to work in a range of media. Today, she assimilates that experience in the creation of mixed media collage and photography. Her formal education gave way to a continuing series of workshops and programs which further developed her skills, most recently at the short-lived Sedona Summer Colony, a collaborative residency program of the Sedona Arts Center and the acclaimed Verde Valley School. In college, she acquired an Olympus camera that inspired her work until an accident damaged the casing at the brink of a voyage to Peru. That event launched a hiatus from photography for some years until smartphone technology seduced her back in. As an avid traveler, she finds it a compelling and satisfying medium for capturing the range of visual stimulation she perceives.
Cindy’s interest in collage grew when she met another artist using the medium as an entry point of contact to people with Alzheimer’s. Intrigued by the woman’s notebooks of original work, she soon began exploring the art form under her tutelage, and the two co-created a weekly artists group. That early approach centered on an intuitive use of printed imagery, along with a method of dialoguing with the work as psychological inquiry. Later, Cindy’s sensibilities turned her toward the textures of specialty papers and ephemera.
With a deep appreciation of fiber, Cindy immersed herself in the study of handweaving in college, after which, she continued to practice the art for many years. While she has never considered herself a professional artist, her need to express herself creatively has long been sustained by the arts. She is also a writer and published poet, and her memoir Exposing My Bones is as yet unfinished.
Cindy chose to forego a career as an accredited teacher for other professional interests. In the 1990’s, she handled public relations for leading arts organizations including SOFA Chicago (currently Intersect Chicago) and Art Chicago. She now makes her home in the high desert of Arizona. Fridays at Five marks her first formal art exhibition since college.
Gnawa Musicians, 2018
11 x 14 inches
Not for sale