Where Are They? Cindy Morefield
By Angela Wampler | A! Magazine for the Arts | April 26, 2011Most visual artists don't like to market themselves, but Cindy Morefield doesn't have that problem. She likes to talk about her art and her process every chance she gets — and to give advice to folks considering a fine arts career.
"It's true that many artists, as well as solo-preneurs in many other fields, often are reluctant to market themselves," she says. "There certainly was a time in my career when I felt the same way. Over the past few years I've begun to encounter many artists who embrace marketing, and who do it as creatively as they make artwork. Once I realized that there were many ways to go about it, and that I could experiment, it became much less daunting and more fun."
She continues, "I still have a lot to learn about effective marketing. But now I'm focusing on showing my work and getting opportunities to talk to people about it. I really enjoy talking about my work. I learn so much from making it, and people seem to enjoy those stories as much as I enjoy telling them. I have a website (http://cynthiamorefield.com) where I blog (sporadically) about my work and where people can join my email list. Folks can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter."
I had a great time being interviewed by Chris Wakefield on his radio show, Into the Night (KHND 1470 in Harvey, N.D.). We chatted about all kinds of art topics, including painting processes, to MFA or not to MFA, staying productive, getting from start to finish, and my advice for folks considering an art career."
Her first piece of advice? "Prepare an artist statement. They're so important, yet most of us loathe writing them."
Cindy, age 43, is the daughter of Al Bowers of Bristol, Tenn. and Beverly Bowers of Bristol, Va. Cindy now lives in North Carolina, where her husband took a teaching position at Campbell University. In pursuit of education, employment, and adventure, she has visited all 50 United States, Canada, Israel, Palestine, and Italy. She earned her MFA in Painting from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and a BA in Studio Art from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.
In her "Scratching the Surface" studio, Cindy makes paintings that explore color, materiality and process. Of her own process, she says, "Early on I didn't have a lot of influences [except for] my dad's skill at making things. He's a mechanical engineer and can build anything. That ability to make things has always been an underlying thing that fascinated me. That shaped my practical ability to assemble things. I am very interactive with my art."
When Cindy first went to graduate school, she started working with still life — paintings of glass. She recalls, "I moved pretty quickly into pure abstraction and exploring texture and light and color. I think I had to make that transition, going totally away from imagery because it's very hard for imagery to not be laden with meaning. That kept tripping me up. Going to abstraction allowed me to really play with the materials and color. I always had the feeling that the imagery would come back; and I was right, but I couldn't force it."
She continues, "More recently, I have intentionally come up with ways to learn about my process while I'm in the process. It's what I do. I learn from my own process. But when I look back, a lot of it had to do with letting go of assumptions that I had about what I was supposed to be doing: what is significant painting? what is important work to do? what are the themes you should be addressing? what makes you a real painter?"
Cindy adds, "Eventually the constant theme that came through was: anything that's tripping you up like that, just leave it, because the more important thing to do is paint. It really doesn't matter so much WHAT you're doing as the fact you're doing it, because when you're doing it, then the stuff to do comes up. Now I trust that process a lot. I do what's in front of me and what interests me at the moment. That has always led to other interesting things to do. Whenever I try to impose an idea, it just doesn't work. Now I'm more comfortable letting those things go to the back burner, trusting that if there's a place for them to fit in, that they'll come up at the right time and I'll get to use them.
In December 2010, Cindy learned she was one of 15 artists selected to receive funding through North Carolina's Regional Artist Project Grant program. She says, "I'll be using my grant funds to attend a Nihonga painting workshop and avail myself of individual career coaching. I'm so happy to live in a state that supports art and artists."
Cindy says, "I love to collaborate — whether I'm creating a commissioned painting for a collector, working with galleries and dealers to find good homes for my work, co-creating with other artists, jamming about the creating process, helping others connect with people and resources, planning my year, or cooking a meal."
In terms of commercial galleries, Cindy looks for places where she thinks her work will be "a good fit," where she can relate to the gallery director's aesthetic and have a good working relationship. For other venues, she looks for the quality of the exhibition space and the lighting, and if it's a place where she can reach collectors of regional art. Last year she exhibited her artworks at galleries in Columbus, Ohio, and Washington, D.C.
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