Collagist and Illustrator Cynthia Parsons McDaniel discusses being part of the Mid-Year exhibition at the National Academy of Art and Museum

Cynthia Parsons McDanielThe National Academy is a lively community of artists dedicated to arts in America. Founded in 1825, a group of artists and architects including Thomas Cole, Samuel F.B. Morse and Asher B. Durand and many others formed what would soon become The National Academy. Modeled after the Royal Academy of Art in London, this museum was founded with the simple mission to promote fine arts in America through instruction and exhibition.

Collagist and illustrator Cynthia Parsons McDaniel had her first collage in the mid year exhibition at the Sonia Gechtoff gallery. The piece is called a glance through the news and tells the love story of two newspaper journalists 100 years ago. One lived in Rome and the other in Paris. They would meet from time to time in either city and go to the park and wrap themselves in newspapers like a little hut. The materials used are all 100 years old including the fasteners and the the tacks mounted on small canvases, using vellum and vintage post cards and newspaper type face.

Tell us about your work?

I work in the medium of visual storytelling using collage, video and illustrations with limited text. I like to project images that tell stories with no words, just images. Having a strong affinity towards the history of New York and Europe, I incorporate images from the past with thoughts from present history, always repeating itself. I like to use various types of paper and type face, allowing each image to tell a story both historic and modern.

What is your background?

I have worked in media at places like the Daily News writing headlines to glossy magazines like InStyle. The first being more real, the second being more superficial in content. One is reality gossip about real life events, the dark and the light. The other airbrushed and glossed over in editorial content. I incorporate my experiences also with the theater, film and television having worked extensively in all those industries.

What other mediums do you work in?

I create dioramas about historic figures including Marie Antoinette and Joan of Arc. I also constructed one with seven types of paper textures about the the history of whaling and fishing in Montauk.

Having studied photography in London as well as working at American Photographer magazine, my influences include Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. My mentor was Andrée Putman the renowned interior designer.

So you arrived at art finally, how did you get there?

After working at a unit publicist on movie sets in Rome, Berlin, London, and Paris I then did publicity for movie studios in the United States that had productions overseas and some were Italian and French production companies. I got to work with Fellini, Jean-Luc Godard and the Coen Brothers. Prior to that time I launched a fragrance with Salvador Dali and helped design a movie poster with Alex Katz for a film I was helping promote.

With an extensive background in event planning my visual expertise was used to help design events at Versailles for both the Opera House and the Hall of Mirrors. I did two indoor gardens for the premiere of Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What’s the most organic art you created from another project perhaps that morphed into an art piece?

I have created a series called “Prop Art” made of various paper that will be used as props for a one act play I have written about early Broadway. I have most recently done props for Boardwalk Empire with an antique dealer and also did window displays.

What’s next?

I am doing illustrations and collages for magazines, newspapers and websites. I have also done a series of collages that I put into journals that will be included in my next exhibition.  Working and meeting other artists has been lifechanging. The people I have met in the art community are remarkably encouraging about one’s talents!  It’s such a departure from where I had come from in my career but also seemed like a natural progression to become an artist..

The Mid Exhibition is up until December 13 at the Sonia Gechtoff Gallery.  It is located at the National Academy of Art and Museum.

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