From Darkness Artist Profile: Ursula Bowden and Cynthia Hornbeck

From Darkness is a tale of art and passion and truth and betrayal. The actors and designers have immersed themselves in the history of the New York art scene as they developed, rehearsed, and designed the show. We thought it would be great to highlight our amazingly creative production team by asking them a few questions about art, character, and the nimbus creative process. Check back for more Artist Profiles leading up to our opening on May 16!


Master Forger Urslua Bowden

What is your favorite painting?

As a designer and an artist myself, I love looking at paintings and I have a ton of favorites. My tastes are constantly shifting depending on what I'm working on or what I've been thinking about or the daily pieces of my life. There are some I come back to and back to as favorites: 

I love love love Dave McKean. His is technically digital painting, but it's still stunning. Most people may have heard of him from his work doing Sandman covers with Neil Gaiman. He did art for two tarot card decks and my favorites are hard to find: The Moon (looks like a heavily pregnant woman in labor) and Justice  (a woman wrapped in red standings in a street with the streaming lights of a car around her).  From his other tarot deck my favorite image is The Lovers, which I recreated in part for nimbus' Mail Order Bride.

Warhol did a painting of a man's chest, kind of hunched over, with colors of peach, pink, blue and red that has always stuck in my mind. The composition of it is wonderful. I can't remember it's name. I also love Warhol's versions of the Boticelli Birth of Venus. It's the perfect mashup of classical and modern to me. 

Rothko's idea that you can influence mood with just color and composition is extremely important to me, and I look at his work often. 

Alfonse Mucha is another favorite. His work is romantic and dreamy and evocative to my creative spirit. Evening Star is my favorite from him.

Picasso's Man with Guitar is stunning. How much mood can you put in a single painting? 

And I love that there's a modern Renaissance happening in art and painting right now. Alessandro Andreucetti, Jover, Olivierre Bonhomme, Stephen Haigh, Aya Kato, Monika Gospidinova, Ekaterina Korileva, Sara Blake.... I could go on forever...

Tell us about an interesting design challenge with this show...

I have one job on this production: convincingly forge a piece of art by the Father of Modern Painting. It's a tall order. 

Any interesting insight into the nimbus process for creating devised work?

The devised work process is so challenging, and inspiring. I'm very removed from it this time, aside from input on who I thought I could successfully paint. I love the nimbus sandbox, and this is obviously a subject that is very interesting to me. I've actually avoided reading the script because I want to be as surprised as possible by the story. It's not a luxury I often have. 

Actor Cynthia Hornbeck

What is your favorite painting?

I don't really have a single favorite painting, but my favorite artist is probably J. M. W. Turner.

Tell us about one of the characters you play that you find most intriguing.

I get to play the amazing painter Helen Frankenthaler, who invented color field painting and had a huge affect on American modern art. I actually went to the same college she did- Bennington College, in Vermont. In her lectures I hear a lot of the frameworks- discussion, gesture, process-based work, breaking the rules- that made going to school there unique.

Any interesting insight into the nimbus process for creating devised work?

Creating a show this big, as a group, starting from only an idea for a plot, is basically an act of insanity. And I love it. I'm so grateful to have been part of this process. This is my favorite kind of theatre to do and to see.