Cynthia Woong – Statement
I arrived onto this planet with curious eyes and a soulful, imaginative spirit. My hands actively creating and experimenting joyfully in my youth. As a sculptress, I am captivated by the “physical” soul, human spirit and body encapsulated in one. My day begins by reaching for that pure, serene quiet within. I sculpt in the medium of earthen clay, inviting, malleable and supple. The ever forgiving playful muse. I draw from the active expression of dance and movement. My keen artistic eye observing the athletic strength and weightless grace embodied. I strive to capture soulfulness: the provocative, sensual, elusive, powerful … human spirit in movement.
About the Artist – Capturing Grace: Cynthia’s Story
by Li-at Friedman
Artist Cynthia Woong has beautiful hands – hands that would rather be molding clay than folded neatly in her lap as they are now. She laughs when I ask about the inspiration for her work, eyes twinkling. “You know how artists are always saying, ‘this slab of marble sculpted itself’ or ‘this painting just flowed out of my brush’?” she says. Her hands come to life as she speaks. “Well, I hate to be cliché… but that’s usually the way it happens for me!”.
Her house is chock-full of Cynthia’s artwork, from beautiful bronze sculptures to Native American tribal shields to intricately-woven wire jewelry. Her work has been featured in galleries and boutiques along the California coast as well as urban centers throughout the US. Every piece marks a moment in her life; as she leads me around, anecdotes seem to spill from each one. I am both fascinated and impressed by the sheer variety of skills she harbors—especially since she’s self-taught.
Clay has not always been her medium of choice. Cynthia received a bachelor’s degree in the Interior/Environmental Design Program from the California College of the Arts. She began her career as an interior architectural designer, casually taking sculpting classes on the side.
Then Cynthia injured her back and she was suddenly faced with the possibility of a limited physical future. As a child, she had yearned to explore the world of dance but never had the opportunity; in her mid-forties, she realized she was running out of time to try.
It didn’t take long for Cynthia to fall in love with dance. Barre exercises rejuvenated her spirit while strengthening her muscles. As her body healed, she sought out additional classes: African Brazilian, jazz fusion, hip-hop, ballroom – every genre she could possibly find. “I’ve always been captivated by the athletic grace, the sheer amount of dedication dancers have,” she tells me, “Dancing takes years and years of training – but appears so impossibly seamless.”
After Cynthia fulfilled her childhood dream, she moved on to achieve a new goal in life: fusing her new found passion with sculpture by designing her own line of dance-inspired jewelry. The artist explains that dance helped her rediscover the human body as an extension of the life force within. She is both drawn to and fascinated by the ways people use movement to express themselves and loves to portray these sentiments in her work. In her Dance Jewelry Collection, the timeless elegance of each sterling silver figure captures the very essence of lyrical movement, offers a split-second view into the depths of a dancer’s soul. She explains that this timelessness is a self-imposed requirement when designing her pieces. “I want my jewelry to surpass me, surpass my lifetime,” she explains. I have never seen anything like it.
As a final thought, the sculptor shares one of her favorite quotations with me: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” (Maya Angelou). Cynthia is neither a classically-trained artist nor a professional dancer— “I’m still a novice,” she admits—yet after hearing her story and seeing her work, I realize she has inadvertently mastered both. The fluidity, poise, and pure emotion of her dance jewelry reflects the joy of dance just as purely as the pieces reflect the artist herself. From experienced dancers to those with simply a humble appreciation for the art, Cynthia Woong’s sterling silver jewelry resonates with us all.