Cynthia Schira


Cynthia Schira

Artist statement


The Covid pandemic has prompted a rethinking of the accepted in many aspects of society as well as everyone’s life. For me it includes my studio practice. The cancelation of most professional activities and connections through travel—as well as self-isolation—has created a strange but positive situation. There’s space and time now for new considerations, a freedom from what was to a why not. By replacing accepted routines and obligations with extended studio time, I played. Using leftover materials, unused parts, scraps, embroideries, glue, frames, clay pieces, scissors, rejected weavings, a printer, the computer, paper, my embroidery machine, the sewing machine—whatever—I spent hours involved. The trick for me was to trust in the relationship between the residue from years of making and my immediate studio activity and to skip judging and editing the partial results. I needed to concentrate on the path that was being created from one work to another. I needed to accept and find pleasure in the way one work grew into another, and to hope, eventually, for possible validity.


Cynthia Schira, born 1934

Days from Memory, 2020,
mixed media textile collage with weavings


image of the artist’s studio during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020


Cynthia Schira, born 1934

mixed media textile collages with weavings, 2020,
mixed media textile collages with weavings


Artist bio


A former University of Kansas faculty member, Cynthia Schira has been exhibiting internationally for over 40 years. Her work is represented in major public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, and the Museum Bellerive in Zurich. She is the recipient of two NEA grants, a Tiffany Grant, and an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design. In 2000, she was awarded a Gold Medal from the College of Fellows of the American Craft Council. Her works often draw imagery from the notational codes, ciphers, and diagrams that visualize systems of knowledge in different disciplines and professions. In 2013, Schira collaborated with her former student, internationally recognized artist Ann Hamilton, on an exhibition commissioned by the Spencer Museum. This large-scale project and accompanying book, An Errant Line: Ann Hamilton / Cynthia Schira, featured all new work by both artists, inspired by and based on objects in the Spencer’s collection.