Artist’s Biography

Never quite settling down and never quite fitting in, Cyndie Rauls learned at a very early age to dance to the beat of her own drummer.  But a satellite’s life can be a lonely life, so she found a soft place to land in honoring the connections between all things.

Born an artist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Cyndie has early memories of finger-painting on the kitchen table and the very distinct fragrance and feel of the paint on her hands. In Kindergarten, during each day’s free-time, she would rush to one of three easels in the room which were well stocked with tempera paint and brushes.  As a child her need to create was insatiable; a trait that could very accurately describe her today.

While artistic opportunity existed at school, it wasn’t always accessible at home. Her mom and dad often struggled to make ends meet.  Single-income parenting for a family of five children involves an intense financial choreography that doesn’t allow for ‘extras.’  During her transition to second grade, Cyndie’s family moved to the country, creating a homestead that would supplement their growing family’s needs. Money continued to be tight, however, and art supplies were limited to a cookie tin filled with broken crayons and perforated stack of recycled printer paper that a kind neighbor occasionally dropped off for the kids.  She’ll tell you that it felt like Christmas every time he did this.

It was with crayons that Cyndie began her experimentation with color.  To capture her favorite hue, she discovered that the brick red and midnight blue crayons blended beautifully to create a mélange of indigo.  Blending colors gave a depth to color that a single crayon couldn’t match.  The ingenuity required to create with the materials at hand would later become the propellant of her art today.  She found art in nature, collecting acorns, leaves, and cool looking rocks that could be glued into three dimensional works. When there was no glue, her mother showed her how to create a paste using flour and water. This was also when she learned that works of art don’t necessarily have to be permanent. 

For Cyndie’s first twelve years of life, the answer to who she was hovered above her in complete clarity.  She was an artist.  During a visit to her grandfather’s house one Sunday, Cyndie’s uncle yielded a seismic shift in her confidence when he asked her the question, “So… what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Without hesitation she answered, “An artist.”  Her uncle laughed, “You can’t be an artist, you’ll never make any money!” In the physics experiment that is Cyndie’s life, this one seemingly minor verbal ‘tap’ knocked her off course for a very long time.

Complicated family web aside, her father continued to nurture her gift by encouraging her to paint murals around the homestead.  To his credit, he recognized her artistic flicker even if Cyndie no longer recognized it in herself.   Toss into the mix an extremely dynamic psychology teacher, whom Cyndie admired, and the collegiate result will be an artist in a psychology major’s clothing. But as with all truths, who she was to her core would eventually find its path to the surface.

Cyndie was the first in her family to go to college, and after graduating took jobs that orbited the art field.  She became an Art in Education Coordinator for the Syracuse, New York branch of the Lincoln Center Institute.  It was there that she administered an arts in education program which provided dance, drama, music and visual art for 76 Central New York schools. She organized summer teacher training which provided workshops and performance previews for 100+ teachers with an emphasis of the importance of the arts in the classroom.

Children competing in Tug-o-War at the first annual FRM Olympics

When her future husband, Don, relocated to Boston, Massachusetts, Cyndie followed. She became a communications assistant for First Realty Management Company. She was tasked with creating all in-house graphic design, which included designing approximately 130 newsletters annually.  She also became the company’s photographer. 

Her photo (above) was selected to be on permanent display in the “Communities of Quality” exhibit at the Department of HUD in Washington, DC.

Upon moving back to Wisconsin, Cyndie took a position as an Early Childhood Education Coordinator for Very Special Arts in Madison, Wisconsin. She coordinated a newly created arts program which provided integrated arts opportunities to young children with disabilities. She recruited, trained and monitored 18 teaching artists, and conducted classroom observation and evaluation of teaching artist work. She created and developed multimedia presentations as visual records of the program.

“No Small Risk”

It wasn’t until Cyndie left the work force to become a full-time mom that she began to see these past positions as surrogates to a bigger calling.  While she had always found a way to keep her finger on the pulse of the art world, she felt that she needed to be at the heart of the pulse. Without classical training, without pedigree, she cut her own path with the ingenuity of an artist equipped with a tin of broken crayons and recycled printer paper.  She currently sculpts using reclaimed wood scraps from a St. Paul workshop, and ash trees felled by the emerald ash borer.  She uses discarded glass pieces from a stained glass studio to create mosaics, and sculpts with large tin cans salvaged from an elementary school cafeteria. Items thought to be so insignificant as to be discarded, indeed have a story and the potential to be of new and beautiful significance.

Cyndie’s tenet is that all things are connected; unearthing these connections is the thread that binds the aggregate of her work.

Cyndie can now be found transplanted in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin with her husband, one-eyed dog, two black cats and nine chickens. She opens her house and studio to the public as a way to meet and connect with her community.

“Hoot Owl Trail”