Cynthia Back and Phyllis Trout



“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot

Phyllis Trout and Cynthia Back both find endless inspiration in approaching a narrow range of subjects. Improvisation, responding to the image as it forms, revising and repeating, are the essence of their practices.

Cynthia lives in a wooded area, a narrow strip along a creek surrounded by homes and asphalt, an oasis of old growth oaks and beech. She continually records these trees and the creek that meanders through, concerned with the growth and decay of her subjects. Within this concentrated focus there is infinite variation. Also important is travel, which brings new vistas and habitat to explore.

Carving wood to portray wood, Cynthia makes reduction prints and black and white woodcuts. She especially enjoys the layering and surprises that come with each new color printing. Redrawing the image over and over, reacting to the process, she stops only when there is nothing left to carve.

Phyllis’s ritual of art practice is physically demanding and invigorating. She works through a subtractive and additive process: by wiping, scraping, and diluting the ink/paint, the images appear and disappear. She balances intention and accident while allowing spontaneous events to occur. She explores further and repeats a continuum of revision. Most recently she has been adding color in the printing process as well as painting on the monotypes with watercolors.
The "Bardo" series is titled for the transitional and liminal consciousness between awake and asleep, living and dying, and light and dark.
Deir ez Zor is a large eastern city in Syria that is often photographed in the news because of the devastation. “Deir” in Arabic means monastery.
Her work is nourished by her study of magnificent architectural spaces, particularly large public spaces of gathering and transition. Her process emerges from and reflects spaces archaeological in nature, where histories are revealed in the present moment and what is past and what is present isn’t so neatly separated.




Cynthia Back was born in St. Louis, Missouri and currently lives in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania. She earned a BFA at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and a post-graduate certificate at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, England. Cynthia has exhibited widely both in the U.S. and internationally. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including grants from the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Puffin Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation; residencies and fellowships to The Studios at Key West; The Artists Centre Dale, Norway; The Women’s Studio Workshop, Blue Mountain Center, Acadia National Park; The Ballinglen Arts Foundation Ltd., Ireland, Fundacion Valparaiso, Spain, Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, The Cill Rialaig Project, Ireland, and The MacDowell Colony. Her work is included in private and corporate collections including The Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Newark Public Library, the Free Library of Philadelphia, The New-York Historical Society, and The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Phyllis Trout is a painter/printmaker/educator who has been printing at Manhattan Graphics for decades. She exhibits widely and her work is in international and national collections.