Cynthia Kukla, a Chicago native, received her BFA in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, under Ray Yoshida, and MFA in Painting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Cynthia exhibited in curated museum exhibits while in graduate school and received her first tenured appointment at Northern Kentucky University. During her first sabbatical, she was a visiting artist in Geneva, Switzerland. “Objects without Prejudice’ series was created there followed by the ‘Great Queen’series including 18 foot triptychs and her first bronze sculptures, made at the University of Cincinnati, for ‘Thrones for a Great Queen.’ At Illinois State University, her first sabbatical was at Miami University, Ohio as a visiting professor. At her Cincinnati warehouse studio, she completed 230 paintings and 13 sketchbooks leading to numerous exhibitons and in 2004, as a keynote speaker for the symposium for the exhibition “Coming of Age in Ancient Greece,” at the Cincinnati Art Museum.
A Greek odyssey followed: her 2006-07 sabbatical featured a visiting professorship at Aristotle Thessaloniki University, Greece, one of the largest universities in Europe with over 95,000 students. In two months in Greece, she completed over 110 watercolors at three solo weeklong trips to sites at Delphi, Dion and Athens, at sites and museums in Crete and in museums in Istanbul. She returns to Greece in 2014 for a more extensive painting trip and second visiting professorship at Aristotle Thessaloniki University.
Cynthia exhibited her paintings, watercolors, works on paper and sculptures on four continents in over fifty solo shows and over two hundred fifty curated or group exhibitions. In 2006, she was inducted into the Watercolor Honor Society. In 2010, her work traveled to Japan for a WHS exhibition and to Viet Nam in 2011. She made a special painting of the Thai Emerald Buddha for Viet Nam. In 2012, she was among four artists curated into “No Greater Gods” at the University of Virginia.
She spoke at numerous international conferences; the Enlightenment aesthetic panel at “Impact~ Kontakt” in Berlin, Germany and Poznan, Poland, 2005. While in Berlin, she had special permission for two days drawing the acclaimed Queen Nefertiti statue at the Altes Museum. She spoke at Impact in 2007 in Tallinn, Estonia, continuing her theme of examining Enlightenment aesthetics: Classical Practices: Are Artists Still Embracing Them? In 2008, she chaired a panel Classical Practical in the Digital Age for the Mid-America Print Council.
She returned to Tallinn in 2009, invited to exhibit in the acclaimed Tallinn Drawing Triennial, Mana Propria. She taught a Master Class at the Triennial’s Drawing Marathon at the Art Academy in Tallinn. In 2010, she taught a faculty workshop in academic writing in the fine arts at Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok, Thailand and again in 2011, along with teaching Western painting and watercolors. She painted at ancient sites on week-ends at Panomrung, Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya and Wat Arun and in temples in Bangkok during her two-month invitation. ‘Teaching Myself the Thai Alphabet’ is a new series of paintings evolving from these two magnificent experiences in Thailand.
Annually, since 2004, her work is featured in an exhibition at the Vivarosi Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, following a 2003 research residency at the Hungarian Multicultural Center in Balatonfured, Hungary. Previous residencies supported by grants include: Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont, Millay Colony, Austerlitz, New York, and Studios Midwest, Galesburg, Illinois. Other research grants took her to Poland, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan. Her commissions include the Spurlock Museum of World Culture, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She was invited to create five paintings to represent each of five major galleries for the museum inauguration in 2002.