Cynthia Hayes Headshot

Cynthia Hayes

  • Teaching Faculty III, First Year Program
  • Teaching Faculty III, Painting & Drawing
  • Director, First Year Program
  • Co-Coordinator, Hubei University of Technology


MFA, Michigan State University
BFA, UW-Milwaukee


Cynthia Hayes earned a BFA in painting and drawing in 1987 from UWM. She went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 1992. Immediately following graduate school, Cynthia moved to the tiny Caribbean island nation of the Commonwealth of Dominica. Known as “The Nature Island,” Dominica has a mountainous terrain covered by rainforest. Influenced by the light and foliage, the lasting impact of the colors of the tropics can be seen in her paintings. Cynthia Hayes returned to UWM as a lecturer in 1998. She has since been continually teaching art courses — primarily drawing and figure drawing — but also in 2D, color theory, and painting.

A longstanding fixture at the weekly UWM Open Figure Drawing sessions, her works’ primary focus has been figurative. Her interest in historical figurative art led to a body of work exploring the traditions in which childhood has been represented. Her paintings have often contained garden statuary of cherubic children which themselves refer to sculptures of 19th century French sculptors like Carpeaux as and others as far back as the Greek Boy Strangling a Goose (2nd century BCE).

Wanting to expand her knowledge of non-western art history, she studied the art and architecture of India through Oxford University. 2014 became a productive year for personal development of her artwork. Hayes traveled to Asia, spending three weeks studying ancient Buddhist sculptures and paintings in the Himalayan country of Bhutan, Thailand, as well as ancient Hindu sculpture in Kolkata, India. Materials and information gathered on this research trip are inspiring a new body of work.