Cynthia Lahti

Cynthia Lahti is a native Oregonian who finds inspiration in its physical and psychological landscape. She grew up in Portland Oregon, leaving to earn her bachelors degree at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1985. After graduating she returned to Portland where she continues to live and make art.

Travel, exploring eclectic museums and camping in the wild parts of Oregon energizes her artistically. Teaching drawing and collage classes at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts and Creative Arts Community has also been a rewarding and inspiring part of life. She was awarded the Halle Ford Fellowship for artists in 2013, and is represented by PDX Contemporary Art in Portland, Oregon.

An interview with Cynthia Lahti was published in Ceramics Now Magazine, Issue 1.


Cynthia Lahti Ceramic sculptures

– Sculptures, 2012-2014

I create works of art that reflect the beauty and chaos of the world. My art, which encompasses drawing, collage, and ceramic sculpture, is influenced by human artifacts from ancient times to the present, as well as by my personal experiences and emotions. I believe even the smallest artifact can evoke the most powerful feelings, and I draw inspiration from objects and images, both historical and contemporary, that have the potential to reflect beyond themselves. I seek in my art to force a deeper explanation of reality and to facilitate a connection with a larger human experience. I am currently exploring the way various materials affect the conceptual intent and impact of each piece. The results have been exciting, and have expanded the artworks’ potency and eloquence.

Throughout my artistic career I have honed my technical skills and sensitivity to materials, and I am currently exploring the way various materials affect the conceptual intent and impact of each piece. These pieces combine paper and sculpted ceramic components, or use paper in some way. The source materials for elements include old books, documentary photographs of the circus, party ephemera, figurative sculptures from antiquity, and mass-produced figurines of the industrial era. The materials are altered, manipulated, and combined in a process that becomes an obvious and integral part of the completed piece. The paper introduces an element of fragility, while also referring to art historical uses of “found” objects and materials by artists associated with Dada and Surrealism. I was equally interested in using paper sculpturally, in a naïve and childlike way that complements and contrasts with the ceramic elements. At the heart of these works is the potential of each material to evoke a different emotional response, on a full spectrum of tensions and resonances.

The theme of defining emotions and experiences has as alway been evident in my work. The artwork growing to be more precise and effective in conveying this. I have gained a much deeper understanding of my artistic process, becoming completely comfortable with it, confident that my studio practice will result in powerful and convincing work. I constantly challenging myself, forcing the work to evolve. I am also extremely critical of everything I make, knowing that this part of my artistic process results in more successful artworks. I find incredible joy in this method of creating art. During the past 10 years I have become more involved in teaching art; supporting my belief that art is an essential part of being alive. Through these teaching experience I have become more of an advocate for encouraging that art be inclusive of, and available to everybody.

CYNTHIA LAHTI’s C.V. (resume)

Hallie Ford Fellowship in the Visual Arts for 2013

1997 – Received scholarship to participate in the class Bas-Relief Sculpture at The Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington
1994 – Selected to participate in the class Creating a Story Through Lost Wax Casting at the Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, Washington
1985 – Bachelors of Fine arts, Illustration Department, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island

2012 – Ceramics Berlin Residency, Berlin Germany, 11 week residency
– Ford Family Foundation Caldera Artist in Residence (AiR) Prize
2011 – Selected for studio conversation with curator and critic George Baker
– Lecture, Adelphi University, Art Department, Garden City, NY
2007 – Residency, Caldera Arts Center, Sisters, Oregon
– Senior Residency in Ceramics, Oregon College of Arts & Crafts, Portland, Oregon
2004 – Intersection, October 2003- October 2004, selected to observe and create artwork about life within five fire stations located in Portland, Oregon
2002 – August 16 – August 26, Iron Rodeo at Maryhill Museum, Selected to participate in a ten-day iron casting residency program held at the Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, Washington
– The Drawing Center, New York, NY; drawings accepted into Registry

2013 – Elsewhere, PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
2012 – “BERLIN WORKS” – Zentrum fur Keramik, Berlin, Germany
2011 – “NURSE,” PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
2009 – “SMILE,“ PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
2007 – “Daughter,” PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
2005 – “New Found Land,” PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
2004 – “A Secret History,” Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College, Portland, OR
2002 – “Sculpture and Drawings,” The Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR
2000 – “New Works,” The Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR
1997 – “New Views,” The Laura Russo Gallery, Portland, OR
– Marylhurst Art Gym, Lake Oswego, OR
1994 – “Heads,” A Site-Specific Installation, Nine Gallery, Portland, OR
1993 – “Dresses,” Nine Gallery, Portland, OR
1990 – Blue Gallery, Portland, OR
1989 – Northwest Artist Workshop, Portland, OR

2013 – “Studio Share”, Reading Frenzy, Portland Oregon
2012 – “Oregon Biennial”, Art Gym, Marylhurst University, Juried by Prudence Roberts
2011 – “Ceramics Now Exhibition”, Fabrica de Pesule, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
– “The Return of the Native,” two-person show, Kala@Hipfish Monthly, Astoria, OR
2010” Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial 2010,“ juried exhibition, Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, WA
– “Texas National,” Juried by Judy Pfaff, Nacogdoches, TX
2009 – “Portland Comes to Astoria,” Astoria, Oregon
2008 – “Kinda Like a Buffet,” PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
– “Works in glass,” PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR
– “OCAC Studio School Instructor Show,” Oregon College of Art and Craft, Portland,OR
2006 – “Portrait Show,” Hall Gallery, Portland OR
2005 – “Next,” PDX Contemporary Art, Portland, OR.
2003 – “Sculptural Invitational,” Campbell Hall Gallery, Western Oregon University, OR
– “Iron Rodeo,” Spokane Falls Community College Art Gallery, Spokane, WA
– “Core Sample, An Exhibition of Exhibitions of Portland Art Now,” Portland, OR (Included in the shows “Crafty,” “The Hunt,” and “Draw”)
– “Bibliocosmos,” Douglas Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College.
– “Iron Rodeo,” Center on Contemporary Art, Seattle, WA
– “Eighteen Women,” The Art Center Gallery, curated by Prudence Roberts and Bill Ittman, Clatsop Community College, Astoria, OR
2002 – “7th Outdoor Sculpture Invitational,” Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, WA
2001 – “Art Objects: PDX, Portland International Airport,” Portland, OR

2013 – Hallie Ford Fellow in the Visual Arts for 2013
2012 – Career Opportunity Grant for Artists, Oregon Arts Commission, Halle Ford Foundation
2011 – Finalist, Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Portland, OR
2009 – Nominee, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Awards in Painting, Sculpture, Printmaking, Photography, Video and Craft Media
2008 – Career Opportunity Grant for Artists, Oregon Arts Commission
2006 – Artist Fellowship, Oregon Arts Commission, Salem, OR
1997 – Art Slate ‘97, Condon, OR
1993 – Willamette Valley Exhibition, Corvallis Art Center, Corvallis OR

2004 – A Secret History, Reed College Library Cases, Portland, Oregon. A site specific installation containing drawn and sculpted elements.
1998 – Portland Building Installation Space, Portland, Oregon.
1994 – Heads, Nine Gallery, Portland, Oregon
1993 – Dresses, Nine Gallery, Portland, Oregon

2008 – SNOW: an interactive, site-specific installation, Portland, OR
2004 – Interstate Max Public Art, TriMet, Portland OR; drawing reproduced in enamel on steel
2003 – Intersection, residency to create artwork about life in five fire stations in Portland, OR
1998 – August 6 – September 12, Way In: An Exhibition of Glass Doors, The Bullseye Connection, Portland Oregon, Commissioned to create cast glass relief panels, which were incorporated into a door
1995 – Visual Chronicle of Portland. Drawing commissioned for inclusion into the Visual Chronicle of Portland art collection

2011 – “Cynthia Lahti,” Plazm, no. 30, 2011
– “Cynthia Lahti,” Ceramics Now Magazine, December 2011
– Lechner, Jenna, “Commanding Compassion: The Intimate Sculptures of Cynthia Lahti,” The Portland Mercury, September 15, 2011
– Hesa Inprint, issue #7, August 2011
– Kangas, Matthew, “Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial 2010: Clay Throwdown,” Ceramics Monthly, April 2011
2008 – Shapton, Leanne, “Style Dispatch, Portland, OR,” Elle, December, p. 96
– Raymond, Jon, “Cynthia Lahti at PDX Contemporary Art,” ArtForum, September
2006 – Raymond, Jon, “Schims: Less Gloom in Doom Town,” Modern Painters, November
– Roberts, Prudence, “Cynthia Lahti at PDX Contemporary Art,” Artweek
2004 – Gragg, Randy, and Matthew Stadler, ed. Core Sample: Portland Art Now, Clear Cut Press, Astoria, OR
2004 – Raymond, Camela, Art Diary, The Organ Review of Arts, Portland Or. Jan/Feb

– Boise Art Museum, Boise Idaho
– Reed College, Portland, OR
– King County Public Art Collection, Harborview Medical Center Collection, Seattle, WA
– Oregon Health Sciences, Portland, OR

Contach Cynthia at or visit her website.

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