Cynthia Hayes

Cynthia Hayes – Big Exhibit 2022 Juror

A lecturer specializing in drawing, figure drawing, color theory, and 2D design, Cynthia Hayes has been teaching in the Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, WI since 1998. For the past three summers, Hayes has been a guest lecturer of Visual Communication at the Hubei University of Technology in Wuhan (teaching in China during 2019 and online due to travel restrictions in 2020 & 2021).
A painter working with a long interest in Asian art history, the visual inspiration Cynthia Hayes gathered on trips to ancient temple sites in India, Thailand, China, and the Himalayan country of Bhutan has had a lasting impact on her work. Two solo international exhibitions in India resulted: A January 2018 solo exhibition Eternal Visions in Kolkata at the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, and An Exclusive Expression of Indian Mythology at the Academy of Fine Arts in 2016. Both exhibitions were made possible by grants from The Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L. Nohl Fund Suitcase Export Fund for Visual Art.

Hayes’ artwork examines the intersection between ancient religious art and
contemporary painting. In this synthesis, Western and Eastern visual traditions merge. Carved architectural ornamental detail seen on ancient stupas, temples, mosques, and palaces form the interwoven layers of pattern interlaced with illusionistically rendered figurative sculptures in her remediation. Hayes works reverently, hoping to imbue the paintings with a sense of the spirituality inherent in the artifacts they represent. Indian hand-blocked cloth known as Kalamkari often serves as the foundation for artworks. The intricate ornamental designs and elaborate borders of the fabric serendipitously coincide in a lovely interplay with the painted image. Hayes implements a limited palette of gray, brown, metallic gold, silver, copper, and other neutral-colored paint in a technique known as “Grisaille, utilized during the European Renaissance in frescos created as imitations of wall sculpture. In this technique, the focus on light and shadow produces the three-dimensional effect of a sculptured relief. Engaged by the challenge of using thin or transparent veils of paint to create the illusion of mass and solidity, Hayes allows the patterned fabric to show through the image, thereby shifting our interest to the two-dimensional surface. The images contrast the impermanence of the material world with the eternal spirit.

She is currently creating a new series of paintings for an upcoming exhibition held in
the newly renovated Hubei University of Technology Art Museum in June 2023. The
show, titled Echos of the Silk Road, is inspired by sites Hayes documented on her
travels in the cultural mixing pot of old Xi’an, China – at the end of the silk road.


  • Cynthia Hayes Art Blog.
  • “Nimbus” (A Solar Wind Publication: An Arts and Science Magazine) September/
    October 2020 issue. Interview article “5 Questions with Cynthia Hayes”.
  • Inspirare India (70 minute video interview at Eternal Visions solo exhibition at Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Golpark, Kolkata, India)
  • MCCTV video of my 2016 solo exhibition at CACE Gallery in Colorado:
  • “The Statesman” (Kolkata, India) review of solo India exhibition (Feb. 6, 2016) in English language