Friday, February 6, 2009

The Artist's Studio: Cynthia King

As part of my research on artists' studios, I visit artists working in the studio setting and ask them about their materials, methods, practices, and approach to life. The emphasis of these forays is to examine the studio setting and how the artist functions and creates art in that space.

I visited Cynthia King, a printmaker and gaming enthusiast, at One Horse Press at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center in Evanston. The printmaking shop, located in the basement, has three presses, a plate cutter, a hot plate, a light box, a table for working with paper, six tables to work on, cabinets for storage, drying racks, a sink, a homemade exhaust system, vertical tanks with etching chemicals, and miscellaneous equipment and supplies. For the past three years, Cynthia has worked as a volunteer studio monitor there, which allows her to use the facilities as her "studio."

On the day of my visit, there were three students working on various printmaking projects. While Cynthia provided assistance to them, she was also able to show me a demonstration on what she called "Xerox transfer," a type of lithographic process she uses to create her own prints. The process involves making a photocopy of a drawing, applying liquid gum arabic to the surface of the copy, inking the image, and then printing on paper using the press. (After the print dries, she could then scan the image into the computer and use graphics software to manipulate the image.) She also printed an image on paper of a robot she etched on a zinc plate.

"I work very fast. I usually do my drawings at home and then go to Kinko's to make copies. If I'm drawing in the studio and not concentrating heavily on drawing, I like to listen to music, although silence is good too. The shop gets me out of the house and puts me in a place where I'm forced to do work. It's easy to get distracted with a studio in your home. I like working with a group of people -- I get energy from them."

Cynthia has been working on drawings for a computer game, which she's been creating and processing for nearly a near. Here's a synopsis of Cynthia's PC game, Darkdevil County.
"War is coming ever closer to Darkdevil County. Magwyn Urban-Dweller, a tech worker, has been oblivious to much of the outside world because of the demands of her job. All that changes the morning she gets an urgent message from her best friend, Lina, begging her to go to the hospital and donate blood. She rushes from her apartment to help her friend.

Cynthia King. Darkdevil Hospital #1,
Darkdevil County Series. 2008.
Xerox transfer, 8" x 8".

Cynthia King. Hospital Screen Shot,
Darkdevil County Series. 2009.

"Magwyn soon begins to understand that not everything or everyone is what it seems. The warring factions include robots, clones, Queen Miria and the reigning royals, scientists, gnomes, doctors, and friends. Some are interested only in developing and using new weaponry -- others vow to stop them -- and others are dedicated to peace and a quiet life.

Cynthia King. Nurse Screen Shot,
Darkdevil County Series. 2009.

"A mystery in her family's past links her to a world seemingly gone mad. To save herself, she must save the world. And maybe change it too.

Cynthia King. Package Screen Shot,
Darkdevil County Series. 2009.

"But first she must figure out how to get out of the hospital..."

Cynthia King. Security Robot,
Darkdevil County Series. 2008.
Xerox transfer, 7" x 10".

Cynthia's recent exhibitions include: Printworks, NSAL, 2008; School of the Art Institute Ox-Bow Benefit, Chicago, 2008; Evanston Art Center 1st Winter Print Show, 2008; Chicago Printmakers Collaborative Small Prints, 2007-2008.

For more about Cynthia, her art, and her game, Darkdevil County, go to

Credits: Art images labeled with the artist's name were provided by the artist, and all other photos were provided by Amy A. Rudberg, unless otherwise noted.

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