top of page
Cynthia Winika ( )



87 Hasbrouck Road
New Paltz NY 12561

Cynthia Winika is a mixed-media artist/teacher who has shown her work and taught in museums, galleries, and libraries in the US and abroad. She has received grants from the Women's Studio Workshop and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was granted residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and at Haystack. She received: the La Vendeen Award for best encaustic teacher of 2015 by the International Encaustic Artists Association and has been granted mentorships for college and high school art students.
Some interesting projects featuring her work have included: John Cage Mycological Celebration at Cooper Union, Accidental Mycologist at A.I.R. Gallery in NYC, and Book of the Dead at MoMA.

She has work in many collections including The Museum of Modern Art in NYC, Harvard, Yale, The Library of Congress and other university and private collections. Her artwork is featured in books and catalogs. Recent examples include: Wax and Paper by Catherine Nash, Abstract Art by Dean Nimmer, The Art of Encaustic Painting by Joanne Mattera, and Experimental Printmaking and Installations by Alexa Tala. Cynthia has taught thousands of people encaustic painting—from college and high school art students to professional artists, conservators, and art teachers—both privately and through her workshops at R&F Handmade Paints.

Represented by A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (

Download Complete Resume.



by Katie Aguilar

CynthiaWinika, an award-winning, fungus-loving artist from the Hudson Valley, is one of the many artists featured in the Golden Age of New Paltz exhibit. She is inspired by her experience living abroad in Taiwan, China and her love for plants and the environment is what inspires her work till this day. Winika taught at R&F Handmade Paints in Kingston, New York.


What inspired you to become an artist?

I guess it was my mother because she likes to do sketching and painting. She liked getting us out of her hair. When we kids were bothering her, she would say to us, “go over there and draw a picture.”  Then all of us, my little sister and little brother, got good in art. My father thought art was a silly thing to do as a profession because he thought it would be better to go into the sciences. But I didn’t feel like doing that. My compromise was going to New Paltz because I could study art and study to be a teacher too. I did it because I really liked kids and I like doing art.


What got you interested in fungi?

Ooo! I guess walking in the woods when I was a kid. My father and mother always took us camping. We would go all over New York  State and being thrown into the woods like that was so nice. We would walk around and find interesting things, one of them was the fungi. I like all plants, botany, biology, all those natural sciences. When I got older, a friend of mine gave me a book about mushroom identification because I was always talking about how cool they were. I started to study it. I still feel like an amateur but I do belong to the Mid-Hudson Mycological Association. That was the beginning of it. It lead me to experimenting with making spore prints and drawing on the bottom of fungi which I really enjoy working on. Our world needs people to think about our precious nature. We need to keep it okay. By the way, fungi or mushrooms purify the ground and get rid of toxins. Isn’t that amazing?


Tell me about your experience living in Taiwan for 2 years?

Well I went there when I was young. I had my little baby, she was about 2 years old, and we went to Taiwan along with my former husband. Both of us were interested in Chinese. I was interested in the art history, painting and calligraphy. I took the language when I was a college kid in New Paltz, but I didn’t learn too much. Once I got there I really started to learn how to speak and get immersed in the culture. It was so interesting to me! I got to go to the big National Palace Museum where they have all the stolen artwork from mainland China. At that time Chiang Kai-shek was the head of the Nationalist Party. He fled to set up a separate government and stole all the good artwork. I think traveling is one of the most educational things you can do in your life. Plus, it affected my artwork from then on. I got to study with a private teacher and he taught me Chinese style painting and calligraphy. This still informs my work today.


What was it like living in Taiwan during the ’60’s?

Living in Taiwan, we couldn’t get the full news stories that people in the U.S. could get about the war. I feel like I missed a lot of the ’60s just because I lived in Hawaii and then Taiwan for about four years. I also had two little kids so I wasn’t part of the big craziness of the ’60s . They say, “If you remember the ’60s, you weren’t there.” You’re not supposed to remember it because of all the drugs and everything, but I was far away.


What’s your least favorite part about being an artist?

The thing I like the least about it is the part that has nothing to do with making art. How you become an artist is a lot of how you push yourself out there and drum up interest in your work. It’s like, “Look at me! Look at me!” I’m not that type of person. I’m kind of a shy person so I don’t know how to push myself into the public. The commercial aspect of art doesn’t appeal to me at all. It’s against my nature as a shy person.

16 March 2018

bottom of page