42” x 28” Acrylic on canvas, fabric flowers on wood drawer

Created for 2018 A PLACE OF HER OWN as a meditation to stay open and receptive to gifts of love, community, funding, grace and peace. The flowers were a collaborative creation with my mother Sue Tom, a devout found object artist 1926-2018.

Awakening the Feminine -Women Rising

Awakening the Feminine -Women Rising_ _acrylic on canvas_40 x 22 in_2017_ photo Cris Matos

48” x 48 “ acrylic and dress pattern tissue on wood

My HUNGRY GHOST comes from feeling like an IMPOSITION. I was imprinted, early in life, with the notion that I was an " IMPOSITION " on my family. Choosing to define I AM from a spiritual perspective versus a religious reference, I AM for me refers to an understanding that I am inherently connected to the larger Universe, an integral component of Spirit, guided and gifted. This is the Spirit that resides inside every human heart and is the heart of the Universe and beyond.

acrylic on canvas_ 24 x 48

Las Ancestras Painting Series : Water Receding The 2017 intuitive prediction that all will turn out in the end, addressing the Trump Regime Las Ancestras Painting Series I work intuitively and don't question where this set of ideas came from. I can only say they evolved. I have been focusing on imagining my female ancestors as happy clams...or joyous. Up until now, I always felt this heavy pull to take care of everyone. Amy Lam, an intuitive energy coach helped me visualize that my ancestors were beginning to smile, their clothing brightening, their energy rising to "joy". I felt sooooo much lighter after that and now I am painting that visualization. #1890bryantstudios #lasancestras #cynthiatomart #surrealism

Artist Statement

Cynthia Tom uses her work to explore issues of gender, equality and the human mind. Her unique paintings reflect the vibrancy and the passion of the artist. She is passionate about social justice and playing with the accepted norm. A seeker and philosopher about women’s issues, her work is known to some as Cultural Surrealism and often portrays minority women in extraordinary situations.
Quote: Laura Kutch, Profiles in Excellence, ABC Channel 7

Painting obsessively since 1994 and working with mixed media, creating large installations since 1991, Cynthia Tom is a self taught artist. She has learned, observed and absorbed technique and style from mentors and teachers over the years, gathering bits and pieces that culminate into her own definitive voice.
The daughter of 2nd generation working class Chinese Americans, Cynthia grew up crafting with free, found objects, necessity being the mother of invention and imagination. Her mother’s, Sue Tom and Cynthia’s first love artistically is still the discovery of found objects and the realization of an artwork that is not identifiable as the parts of the sum, but only as the whole.
Cynthia’s work explores and uncovers the issues in her life as a woman and as an Asian American. Her work has been a catalyst for personal and social change, insisting on shifts in paradigms, not only for herself, but for those who view and collect her work.
Each art work is developed with a vague concept or visual idea, however, paying close attention to her strong aesthetic, beyond her intellectual voice, pushes her creativity to a purely intuitive level. Cynthia strives to keep herself from engaging the art piece with a specific agenda or purpose during its creation. She has profoundly discovered that the narratives embedded in her finished work, at times, predicts her (not too distant future) life issues, providing an image-filled framework that contextualizes her life situations and suggests jump off points for discussion and resolution.
Each painting develops like the telling of a story. Most often, Cynthia’s work needs an audience to interpret and complete the meaning. A decidedly feminist viewpoint, her work has affected many lives. The universality of her premise that modern feminism needs to grow from the center of the woman herself is prevalent in all her

Artist Bio

Visual Artist, Cultural Arts and Community Partnership Specialist, Founder and Director of PLACE of HER OWN: An Arts and Healing Residency, https://www.aplaceofherown.org

Board President of AAWAA (Asian American Women Artists Association)

Cynthia Tom is a visual mixed-media artist, painter and a curator dedicated to cultural and community arts integration for social change. Driven by a passion for social justice for women, she develops art based projects and programs designed to transform women and their communities from the inside out. She believes in curating personal and group art exhibitions that challenge accepted societal and cultural norms on multiple levels.
Cynthia’s art is known as a source of inspiration for healing, empowerment and change, fostering dialog and building community in innovative ways. Often described in terms such as cultural and social surrealism, her work has been exhibited at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, the De Young Museum, Thoreau Center for Sustainability, SOMArts Cultural Center, Los Gatos Museum of Art, Woman Made Gallery, California Institute of Integral Studies, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Chinese Culture Center, Towers Gallery, to name a few.

She lectures on her work, on issues related to women, feminism in the arts and Asian American women in the arts. She has won numerous awards for her art and leadership, including the ABC/KGO Profiles in Excellence leadership award, and was recognized nationally by NPR Radio in 2010 and 2011 and National Association of Professional Women VIP of the Year - 2013.
Her art process and pro bono curatorial work with AAWAA has cemented her passion and processes for holding the artistic space for women to heal and transform. Most currently manifested in her long term project, “A Place Of Her Own,” (a culturally informed arts & healing project). Prior to AAWAA, Cynthia specialized in marketing and sales for e-healthcare and pharmaceutical companies and has since left those industries. She began to uncover her artistic voice during that time and has gone onto to paint and create work obsessively since 1994.
Cynthia’s art is a subject of discussion in text books, Women Artists’ of the American West, Univ of Purdue, Susan Ressler and a text book Asian American Art in Post-Colonial Times – University of Padua, by Dr. Laura Fantone, Professor SF Art Institute. For both her art and her work in the community, which are inseparable, she has been featured in the SF Chronicle, Psychology Today, the Marin Independent Journal, DigitalJournal.com and on KPFA and KPOO radio. http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/360847

For her own art, she is a seeker and philosopher about issues in her life, her ancestors and the community of women. Painting, mixed media, art installation, and curatorial projects are her means of expression. A third generation Chinese American and native San Franciscan, professional artist for 20+ years, curator for 10+ and working formally to heal community through the arts for 6+ years, she is the founder and director of A Place of Her Own, an arts based healing program for women’s transformation. Cynthia works closely with the participants to artistically answer the question, “If you had a place of your own, what would it be?. Participants learn to tell their stories by defining their beliefs, family patterns and aspirations. She encourages and supports artists work from conception to final installation. Now, Cynthia joins forces with her mentor and healing professional Trinity Ordona PhD to take this concept to a deeper impact level.

Cynthia is an artistic truth teller for her community, an Asian American feminist, partnering with women’s advocacy organizations, such as, Asian Pacific Islander (API) Institute on Domestic Violence, Asian Women’s Shelter(AWS), Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA) and API Legal Outreach. She curates several of AAWAA’s major exhibitions including the recent underCurrents and the Quest for Space, funded by California Art Council, numerous A PLACE OF HER OWN exhibitions funded by CAC, San Francisco Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts, Cheers To Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women in the Arts (also a published anthology) She also launched AAWAA’s Emerging Curators Program that provides opportunities for curators to focus on art created by Asian Pacific Americans the United States.
Cynthia Tom is a multi-media visual artist who plays with the accepted norm. Surrealism is the platform for her ideas to ruminate and take form, solutions discovered and color to inspire.

She creates dynamic art works and installations that reflect her passion for social justice for women and community healing through art.

My paintings are meant to encourage women to own their power and for others to see them out of their traditional context.
I believe we as artists have the power to educate deeply and create profound changes in how people perceive their communities, urging the call for social justice, like no other media can.
I create work that brings attention to:
1. Chinese women were interned and interrogated at Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Researching my grandmother was my starting point and where my feminist voice started.
2. Empowerment of the women's movement through societal education about our current state of human trafficking and domestic violence
3. A feminist viewpoint that urges women to heal from the inside out. She creates artistic means for women to recover their voices and change their victim myth. Cynthia believes women have to be ready to take the reins whenever the opportunities arise.


Selected Solo Exhibitions |Artist in Residence | Public Art Awards

2017 Founder’s Gallery, San Rafael Artworks Downtown – Solo Exhibition: Awakening the Feminine

2017  stART Up SF Fair – Hotel Del Sol, juried show.

2016 Madrigal Gallery Sausalito: feminine intuition

2016 Gallery Route One, Project Space Guest Artist: Stories to Tell: Discards & Variances

2014 Towers Gallery, How to Earn Your Cloud, Cloverdale Ca.

2013   A PLACE OF HER OWN mural, 5 Elisabets, Barcelona, Catalunya, Fernado Borras curator

2010-2013 SF Arts Commission Public Art-Art in Storefronts, Chinatown, 950 GRANT AVE., SF

2006 Undiscovered Research, Exhibition in conjunction with the Artist in Residence Program,

          The Legion of Honor, San Francisco

2005 February Arts in San Francisco, Borgia Fine Arts Gallery, S.F.

2003 Juror Selections, 2100 Webster Pan-Pacific Public Space, San Francisco, CA

2002 Exhibition in conjunction with the Artist in Residence, San Francisco Fine Arts Museums

          Auxiliary to the Legion of Honor’s Surrealist Exhibition, Dreaming with Eyes Wide Open.

2000 The Artist’s Studio Exhibition and Artist in Residence, M.H. de Young Museum,

          San Francisco, CA        


Selected Group Exhibitions

2018   A PLACE OF HER OWN at J-SEI, Emeryville

2017   Living in the Shadows, Rutgers’ Center for Women in the Arts and Humanities

2016   Vision: Curators Gutfreund and Cornett and Unitewomen.org; Kaleid Gallery San Jose

2015   Curatorial Residency and Director, SOMArts -A PLACE OF HER OWN

2014   Invitational Installation Artist for SOMarts Cultural Center’s DISPLACED exhibition

2014   EATING CULTURES: Stop Consuming Our Women and Children, SF CA

2013 Alchemy, Chapter 2 ,Guest artist for Dia de Los Muertos, Rene Yanez curator, SF, CA

2013  underCurrents & The Quest for Space, Human Trafficking: A Rich Cultural Tradition, SOMarts, SF

2012 How to Earn Your Cloud, Curator Inson Choy for the Museum of Art Los Gatos.

2012 Discards & Variances II, A Look at Human Trafficking, Chinese Historical Society, SF, CA

2012 Arts of Pacific Asia, Invitational Contemporary Arts Initiative, Fort Mason, SF, CA

2011 INdiVisible, 3 Artists UC Santa Barbara MC Gallery, Santa Barbara

2011 Women Artists of the Bay Area, Donna Segar juror, O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, CA

2011 Discards & Variances, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, RBI Gallery, San Francisco

2009-2011 Curator, A PLACE OF HER OWN, AAWAA - De Young Museum, Driftwood, SomArts Cultural Center and as a healing project for the SF Arts Comm’s Arts and Communities Innovative Partnerships.

2009 5th Annual National Self Portrait Exhibition, Zhou B. Art Center, Chicago.  Juror: Gregg Hertzlieb,

Director and Curator of the Brauer Museum of Art, Indiana.

2009 Hybridity-Guest Installation Artist, Rio Yanez Curator, SomArts Cultural Centre, San Francisco

2009 A Place Of Her Own, AAWAA, Curator and artist, de Young Museum, Artist in Residence, San Francisco

2008 East Meets West, ArtSF Gallery, 49 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

2007 Guest Curator: Cheers to Muses, Contemporary Works by Asian American Women, Chinese Culture Center, SF

Selected Grants/ Awards/ Residencies

2017   San Francisco Arts Commission, Prequalified Artist Pool for upcoming public art commissions

2016   FridaCalico Artist in Residence, San Rafael, CA – Renee Baldocchi award

2016   Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center’s Curatorial Choice “Presented by” Award for PLACE

2016   Gallery Route One, Project Space Invitational Award: Stories To Tell: Discards & Variances

2015   SOMArts Curatorial Fellow for A PLACE OF HER OWN, SOMArts Cultural Center, SF

2015   CultureTrip: TOP 15 BEST GLOBAL SHOWS: A PLACE OF HER OWN, Britain

2013   #5 Elisbets - Artist in Residence, Barcelona

2009   De Young Museum Curatorial Artist in Residence, SF

2008   De Young Museum Artist in Residence, SF


Selected Publications and Interviews

2017 MarinScope Newspapers: Artist Uses Art to Empower Women, Derek Wilson


2017  “n. paradoxa” Intl. Feminist Art Journal, vol 39 Organising pp 80-85, London ,

          “Interview with Cynthia Tom”

2016   ERA 21, vol. 1, Czech Republic Magazine - A PLACE OF HER OWN, Zuzana Morakova

2016   Point Reyes Light House: Art to Transform the Soul by Peggy Day

2016   DigitalJournal.com, Marin Gallery Features Work on Human Trafficking, J Farrell

2015   DigitalJournal.com – Artist Uses Exhibitions as Vehicles for Healing, J Farrell

2015   New York Times. SF Arts Monthly – A PLACE OF HER OWN, Sura Wood

2014    Marin IJ – Cynthia Tom’s Long Journey, Vicky Larson.

2013    Yerba Buena Center video interview: Daily Lives, curator Abby Chen

2012    Chronicle Ovation: Cynthia Tom Finds Her Place, Stephenie Wright Hession

2011    Entering the Picture: Judy Chicago, The Fresno Feminist Art Program, and the Collective

Visions of Women Artists (New Directions in American History) edited by Jill Fields.

2011    Sydnie Kohara, CBS TV, A PLACE OF HER OWN

2011    KPFA Radio – A PLACE OF HER OWN, The Curator, Veronica Faisant, NPR

2011     Bay Times – Finding A PLACE for Women, A PLACE OF HER OWN

2010    NPR Radio- Tell Me More-Tony Cox, Wash, D.C., Women Artists Find Their Place

2011    Traces: Politics and Poetics of post-colonial East-Asian women artists by Laura Fantone PhD, University of Padua, Italy|Scholar, UC Berkeley for Gender professor Art Institute of San Francisco

2009    SF Chronicle's 96 Hours Visual Arts- Featured artist for SF Open Studios

2009    “A Place of Her Own” – The Art of Cynthia Tom by Michael Yochum

2008    ABC Channel 7 - Profiles of Excellence, Emerging Leaders in San Francisco

2007    Cheers To Muses, an Anthology of Contemporary Work by Asian American Women.

1998     Of Our Own Voice, Asian American Women Artists –Anthology

Archives and Academic Textbooks

CEMA – UC Santa Barbara (California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives) collections

Asian American Art Oral History Project, De Paul University (http://via.library.depaul.edu/oral_his_series/10/)

Entering the Picture: Judy Chicago, The Fresno Feminist Art Program, and the Collective

Visions of Women Artists (New Directions in American History) edited by Jill Fields. 2011

Traces: Politics and Poetics of Post-Colonial East-Asian Women Artists by Laura Fantone PhD, University of Padua, Italy|Scholar, UC Berkeley for Gender professor Art Institute of San Francisco

“Women Artists of the American West”, edited by S. Ressler, Univ of Purdue



Founder-A PLACE OF HER OWN: arts based healing and transformative program for women of color

Board President- AAWAA, Asian American Women Artists' Association

Member Northern California Women’s Caucus for the Arts

CA Lawyers for the Arts, Women’s Caucus for the Art, International Museum of Women, De Young Museum’s Asian American Audience Development Committee


Selected Guest Lectures and Workshops

2017   Guest Lecturer UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies, Prof Greg Choy: Presenting Cynthia Tom’s Art and Art Practice

2009 – 2016: Director of PLACE OF HER OWN – Arts based healing and transformation workshops

2016     Ca Lawyers for the Arts: Spotlight on the Arts _youth enrichment program. Cynthia Tom Cultural Surrealist, Social Justice Artist.

2015   Social Impact, The Art and Process of Cynthia Tom, California College of the Arts, Oakland

2014   Social Impact Through the Arts, The San Francisco Foundation Center

2012   Surrealism as Platform for Feminist Activism, The Art of Cynthia Tom, College Art Association, LA

2012   Social Justice, The Asian American Feminist, The Work of Cynthia Tom, Asian American Studies, SFSU

2012   State of Asian American Women in the Arts, College Art Association, New York

2012    Re-Pairing, re-imagine discarded treasures, sewing, mixed media, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF

2010    A Place of Her Own – Workshops with Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach

2009- 2011   Cynthia Tom, Her Art, Feminism and Asian American women artists, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State Asian American studies lecturer

2009     Asia Society presents Asian American Art: Feminism and the Arts: Panel Discussion

2005    Artists and the Business of Art, Marketing yourself.  AAWAA newsletter and workshops

2005    Mills College, Asian American Women Artists’, Their Work, Their Process, Their Progress. 

            Cynthia Tom’s Concepts, Art Dept., Mills College, Oakland, CA

2003    The De Young Museum, S.F., Celebration, collage Workshop-Concourse GG Park.

2002    The De Young Art Center, San Francisco- Intuitive Collage, a mixed media workshop

2002    The Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum Art Center, San Francisco 

      Artist demonstrations and process workshops during Artist in Residence.

2002     City College of San Francisco, Rick Rodriquez-professor – Surrealism and the Psychology of


Specialty Skills

Cultural and Community focused: Curatorial projects for civic engagement, PR, sales and marketing, grant and program development, art exhibition preparatory and installation, Photoshop, Social Media

Development: Grant Writing








  • Mixed Media
  • Visual Arts
  • East Asian
  • Abstract
  • Conceptual
  • Figurative
  • Installation
  • Mixed Media
  • Painting
  • Realism
  • Social Practice