An Art History Analysis of Cyndy's Paintings


An Art History Analysis of Cyndy's Paintings
Amelia Miholca, artist, curator, and art historian

Standing in front of a Cyndy Carstens painting is an enlightening experience. The brilliantly colored sky, rising majestically from the desert terrain, is a reminder of what we often forget in our busy, urban-based lives—the beauty and tranquility of nature within our reach. Cyndy’s paintings are both place specific and universal. While depicting the desert environment, with its fiery sunsets and angular mountains marking open spaces, which is unique to the state of Arizona where Cyndy lives, she also captures the universal appeal of finding spiritual meaning and relief in the solitude of nature.

In this regards, Cyndy follows in the tradition of American landscape painting of the Hudson River School and of artists of the Southwest. The Hudson River School was a group of artists working in mid-19th century New York who are credited with creating an individualistic American identity in painting that was separate from the dominant European influence at the time. Although Hudson River School artists like Thomas Cole were inspired by the European Romanticist movement and its aesthetic theory of the sublime, what differentiated American landscape painters from their European counterparts was the subject matter of United States’ large, untamed wildness. 

Their wandering into mountains and forests and away from civilization meant an escape from the booming industrialized environment of urban cities and a desired connection with something larger and more eternal than themselves. Artists of the 20th century, such as Georgia O’Keeffe, likewise sought refuge from the discontent of metropolitan living in the unpopulated landscape, but this landscape was bare and colored in burnt sienna—in other words, starkly different than the lush, vegetated valleys found in the landscapes of the Hudson River School. 

Check back for the second installment of "An Art History Analysis of Cyndy's Paintings" blog post, to be forthcoming.