Teaching Artist Profile: Cynthia Motian McGuirl

Cynthia Motian McGuirl has been working in the arts her whole life. As a teenager growing up in Rhode Island, she studied traditional drawing and painting. She studied sculpture and fiber at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Mass., and the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri. Cynthia had a handweaving business in Maine, The Dancing Blanket, for more than 25 years. She now focuses on printmaking and book arts at her home studio in Thomaston. Cynthia loves teaching. In addition to classes for adults, she works with children in an RSU 13 afterschool program, Leaps of Imagination, and independent workshops for local schools.

Artist Statement

I work with fiber, metal, and paper utilizing the techniques of stitching, hammering, and bookbinding. I have discovered a back-and-forth repertoire between creating narrative images and creating objects. I think there’s a meditation that happens in the rhythmic “craft” work that helps the “art” work to evolve. I think craft and art are intertwined and of equal importance.  

I try to work in an intuitive way when creating books. One image or word leads to another and when I feel it has come together completely, the book is done. I hope people find the narrative informative and entertaining but that it also inspires them to think about their own stories.

I am the granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors who settled in Providence, Rhode Island, in the early 20th century. I attended art school, which saved my life; moved to Maine, which saved my soul; and pursued a career as a functional handweaver. A series of intense dreams about my ancestors led me to seek a more narrative mode of expression which manifested as printmaking and art books.

Recent exhibitions include Lies, Truths & Mysteries at the NoRo Gallery in Rockland, Maine, and People On the Move: A Human Crisis at the Jonathan Frost Gallery, also in Rockland, Maine. In winter 2017, I was a visiting artist at the Print Studio of the University of Maine at Orono. I teach book arts and marbling at various locations and at my studio in Thomaston, Maine. 

You can find out more about Cynthia Motian McGuirl at CynthiaMotianMcguirl.com.

Enjoy her five-minute video demonstration on making a book hinge, which is an integral part of her pyramid book creations!

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