Aya Dorit Cypis (born 1951) is an Israeli American artist and mediator who resides and works in Los Angeles, California. She is known for her 1980's, 90's feminist installations, performance pieces, and photography that focussed on the body—in particular, the female body. More recent work explores psycho-political identity, difference, and social relations.
Cypis was born in Tel Aviv in 1951 and grew up in Israel. She studied sociology at Sir George Williams University in Montreal from 1968 to 1970 before attending Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from 1971 to 1974, receiving a BA in art education and BFA in fine art from the latter institution in 1974. She then attended the California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) from 1975 to 1977, receiving an MFA in 1977. After graduating from Cal Arts, she served as a director of Foundation for Art Resources in Los Angeles.
Cypis moved from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1983 because she "wasn't interested in and [was] disoriented by the hype-consumerism [sic?] [she] experienced" in Los Angeles. Her experience in Minnesota during this time shaped her perspective as an artist. She was more influenced by cinema, music, and dance—particularly a group of dancers called the Body Arts Network—than the visual arts, and "[p]erformativity became a central element in [her] work". Cypis uses photography, performance, and social sculpture to address history, knowledge and personal experience in relation to psychology, body and society.
Cypis lived in Minneapolis through the 1990s, though she was an artist in residence at Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1993. She used projections and performance "in an attempt to reinsert the figure in the picture". One of her major works, X-Rayed (altered) (1988), was commissioned by the Whitney Museum. In the installation, large photographs of a nude woman were projected. After seeing the installation, and despite her prior consent, the woman depicted insisted that Cypis destroy it. Rather than destroying the installation entirely, Cypis recreated it using photos of her own body.
In 2014, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the Fine Arts. She has also received awards and fellowships from several other organizations, including the National Education Association, Japan Foundation, Durfee Foundation, the City of Los Angeles Cultural Arts Department, and Fellows of Contemporary Art.
Work as mediator
In 2007 Cypis founded Foreign Exchanges, an initiative intended "to bridge the disciplines of aesthetics/art and mediation towards conflict transformation." She offers services described on the program's website as mediation "Transforming conflicts rooted in issues of civil rights, multicultural identity, workplace, contract, arts and culture, community, youth, and family disputes," coaching and facilitation "Guiding individuals through critical personal engagement with conflict and building capacity to develop reciprocal and generative relationships," training seminars "on conflict engagement, self-knowledge, critical thinking, bias assessment, diversity, social relations, cross-cultural dialogue, and consensus building," and public programs "designed to support community building, social engagement, creativity, and social justice." She is also a founding member of Mediators Beyond Borders and Chair of the Middle East Initiative of Mediators Beyond Borders and Chair of Mediation and the Arts Committee, Southern California Mediation Association, and is on the Advisory Board for Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.
Selected exhibitions and presentations
- The Artists and Her Model, De Zaak, Groningen, the Netherlands (solo, 1986)
- X-Rayed, Whitney Museum of Art, New York City (solo, 1988)
- The Inquisition, Walker Art Center/Southern Theater, Minneapolis (solo, 1991)
- Girls' Night Out, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (group, 2003)
- Liberty (Leading the People), Noga Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel (solo, 2003)
- Consider This..., Los Angeles County Museum of Art (group, 2006)
- Johnson, Reed (November 7, 2011). "'Rethinking Borders': Urging both sides to an understanding". Los Angeles Times.
- Kolbiaka, Michal. "Aya Dorit Cypis". In Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles (2007). C.O.L.A. 2007 individual artist fellowships. Los Angeles, Calif.: City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs Dept. ISBN 9780971994959.
- Campbell, Clayton (August 23, 2009). "Dorit Cypis and Hildegard Duane at Jancar Gallery". Artweek.
- Rothfuss, Joan; Carpenter, Elizabeth (2005). Bits & pieces put together to present a semblance of a whole : Walker art center collections. Minneapolis: Walker art center. p. 180. ISBN 0-935640-78-9.
- Solomon-Godeau, Abigail (1988). Sexual Difference: Both Sides of the Camera (PDF). New York, New YOrk: Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University. p. 23. OCLC 18508273.
- Furlong, Lucinda (1988). "Dorit Cypis". The New American Filmmakers Series. Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
- Heartney, Eleanor (November 1990). Dorit Cypis: X-Rayed, (altered) (PDF). Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University.
- Umolu, Yesomi (July 31, 2012). "Identity and Institutionalization: Dorit Cypis on Minneapolis in the '80s". Walker Art Center Magazine. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
- Cypis, Dorit. "Website of Dorit Cypis". Retrieved 1 June 2014.
- "Dorit Cypis: The Body in the Picture". Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Retrieved March 9, 2014.
- Fotofest 2006: the Earth: artists responding to violence. FotoFest Inc. 2006. p. 289. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
- "Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Cypis, Dorit". Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. 2013. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
- "Dorit Cypis". Mediate.com. Retrieved 2014-03-24.
- "2014 Fellows". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
- "Dorit Cypis | Otis College of Art and Design". Otis College of Art and Design. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
- "Foreign Exchanges with Dorit Cypis- tools to share your difference". foreignexchanges.net. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
- "Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: Cypis, Dorit". www.gardnermuseum.org. Retrieved 2015-05-14.
- "Dorit Cypis | Transart People". Retrieved 2015-05-14.
- Cypis, Dorit (2014). "Dorit Cypis". Dorit Cypis. Dorit Cypis. Retrieved 13 May 2015.
- Dorit Cypis personal website