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For Cynthia Steward, Fabric Is the Canvas

New Anderson Artists Guild member Cynthia Steward, who grew up in the Chicago area, completed an associate’s degree at Harper College before joining the Navy. Stationed in Pensacola for four and half years, she worked in aviation electronics.

After her tour was up, her employment included sales of refrigerated equipment to hospitals, restaurants, and convenience stores. Then she returned to school, completing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois. That led to jobs in process engineering, which involved developing inspection systems and maintaining the standards of raw materials. One position was at a company that made parts for large trucks; another was for a packaging company that made thermal forming plastic (“like those plastic clam shell packages you can’t open,” she explained).

The work was demanding, she said. “There were lots of rules and very specific processes to follow,” she said. “We had to make parts within thousandths of an inch tolerance.”

Now retired, she is free to indulge her artistic passions, which have recently focused mostly on fiber art. “I like art quilts,” she said. “I like the texture of the layers.”

Her subject matter is often abstract, but she starts with a sketch using either paint or Procreate, a digital illustration app. “I work better if I have something to guide me,” she said. She is drawn to geometric forms and architectural perspectives. She also uses color as inspiration for nonrepresentational renderings. An example is to take the colors of a magnolia tree to develop an abstract idea. Though it began with the inspiration of the magnolia, the finished work shares only its colors.

Her goal is to move beyond the dying that she already does to dive deeper into surface design to create unique fabric.

She has had her work published in several magazines, and a recent success was the acceptance of a piece into Art Fields. Even better, the piece sold for a price that was a personal best.

For more information about Steward, visit


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