How did you get started and then develop your career?
Cynthia Rosen: I had a great art teacher in high school who encouraged me and had me create a portfolio for a national competition during my senior year. The award was a free ride to art school, so off I went, sight unseen, to the Boston Museum School. At that time, it was a school program predicated on self-motivation. There, I pretty much discovered ‘art’ and a perfect fit. I got lucky.
While in college, someone saw my work and I was invited to show at the Boston Atheneum. A gallerist, Ellen Sragow, saw the show and picked me up for her New York City gallery. I was also picked up by Gross McCleaf in Philadelphia. Simultaneously, I got a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and started a not-for-profit in Massachusetts setting up art programs in social service organizations, another interest. So, I split my time between making art and creating art programs, two passions.
When I had a family, I stopped making art and ending up as a single parent just teaching. About ten years ago I returned to art professionally and have not stopped producing since. As before, I believe it is through perseverance and luck that I have gained rewards.
How do you describe success?
Success is two-fold. First, it is when I shut out societal voices and follow my own, usually having accomplished a new skill in the process or created a painting that works; and the financial ability to support myself doing so. Keeping outside influences out of my head is my greatest challenge. One is constantly told to keep your work consistent, but we are multi-faceted with diverse histories, interests and abilities, and I have just begun to explore mine visually.
The other component of success is when someone who takes a workshop, or sees or hears something that I have done or said and gets excited to incorporate that idea/skill in their own work. I still love teaching/sharing so that is integral to my sense of success.
How do you find inspiration?
Inspiration finds me. It is all around. I just keep working because this is a job as well as a passion. Even on days that I am feeling off-kilter, I just start and something catches my interest. It does not always interpret well; but in the process of ‘doing’ there is always some problem or ‘happy accident’ that catches my interest and spurs me on.
What is the best thing about being an artist?
Independence is the best thing about being an artist. That opportunity to draw upon our personal motivation is amazing. It is difficult because there is always more work to do than time affords. It is in no way a 9–5 kind of job. But that may be what keeps us going. As an artist, I am on an interesting, never-ending journey with inspirations and discoveries around the next bend.
Who do you collect?
I do not collect specific people. I buy art that I can afford to build collections for my grandchildren. I purchase whatever I think they may find interesting or connect with in the hope that as they grow, they will always see that art opens doors; and continue to be interested and collect for themselves.
To see more of Cynthia’s work, visit: www.cynthiarosen.com