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Cynthia Sitton - Jung's Dream

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Cynthia Sitton, 2013, oil on linen, 84 by 36 inches

THE ARTIST: As a child, Cynthia Sitton spent hours with the thick art books owned by her grandfather, a graphic artist. She later took a few drawing classes, but was primarily self-taught, picking up an occasional mural gig amid raising three children. Deciding that she needed more formal training, she enrolled at Laguna College of Art + Design in her mid-30s and got her bachelor’s degree almost eight years later. She eventually earned a master’s degree at LCAD. That relatively late journey to becoming a full-time artist has made all the difference in her work. Her elder daughter, Tiffany, was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a teenager. Sitton’s struggle to find help for her daughter, and the devastation when she could not, drive the powerful emotions apparent in her paintings. “I realized very quickly that I could either literally or ambiguously put part of my life in there,” she said. Sitton, 53, lives in San Juan Capistrano with her husband, Michael. They have two other grown children, Matthew and Jessica. Tiffany, now 33, disappeared five years ago.   

THE ARTIST’S INSPIRATION: I’ve dreamed consistently of birds since Tiffany started going into hospitals. It became obvious to me that the birds were her. I dream of them in thousands. Sometimes they’re in buildings; sometimes they’re in cages. Sometimes I try to catch them. Sometimes they bite me. I made sure I had every freckle, every fiber of the blanket. I made her life size so the viewer would feel much more connected to it. The model was a friend of my younger daughter. I thought “OK, what do birds mean in dreams?” The parakeet means the subconscious state. There can’t be anything more ideal for what I was going through. I wanted to lay her out almost in a funerary style, but also make her fairy-tale like so the viewer can’t tell if she’s asleep or dead. I’m not a religious person. I feel it’s very important to focus on life while we have it. That’s from living with someone losing their mind. You just get hit with the fact that every moment is precious. Because you don’t know when it’s going to slip away.


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