Dolan Cyr is a multi-disciplinary artist based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Cyr studied Studio Arts with a concentration in Philosophy and Literature at the University of Notre Dame, and has been working as a full time visual and social practice artist since 2010.
Cyr’s illustrative, mixed media work explores the tension in natural and socially constructed dualities. Taking an intuitive approach, Cyr applies visual language to the emotional experience of polarity and often uses the figure to represent the metaphysical or psychological. The relationships between self/other, individuality/community, masculine/feminine, and nature/nurture are consistent themes in Cyr’s work.
Cyr is a second generation survivor of a patriarchal, bible based cult.
Until now, I have never stated publicly that a complex, childhood trauma is at the root of my art practice. Perhaps, I wasn’t fully conscious of it until I was invited to share some pieces with the ICSA community. The invitation forced me to look through years of work to see which pieces fit the topic of cult survival. In the process, I realized that most of what I make can be fairly viewed through that lens. Though I hope and believe that the topics I’ve been investigating are universal enough to reach a broad audience, I know that I keep circling the same topics because I am still healing from a specific, personal experience.
I was raised in a deeply patriarchal, charismatic, Christian “Covenant Community” that believes they are building the kingdom of God on earth in fulfillment of an end times prophecy. Leaving this group felt less like a choice and more like exile.
Like many “born in” cult survivors, I have experienced life long side effects from the invasive spiritual, intellectual, physical, and emotional indoctrination. Though I have been out for twenty years, I am still rebuilding my sense of self and the world. Art making has been an invaluable tool in this process. I used art as a means of self directed therapy when I didn’t have access to mental health professionals or was not ready to trust anyone to help. It became an anchoring discipline that I was able to leverage into a career.
I work in a number of different visual styles, but a lot of my cult/healing work falls into two categories: automatic drawings to get to a root feeling or insight and illustrated allegories of psychological states and experiences. I use automatic drawing for excavation – when I need to bypass my mind and coax a feeling or insight out. I use illustrated allegories for reclamation and integration – when I need to own an insight or fling up a monument against the internalized gaslighting that still plagues.
Art saved my life. It provided me with a path for spiritual expression and development after my world shattered. It proved vast enough in its utility to also supply me with a context and a home for a new “life purpose.” I’m grateful to have found my way to a creative discipline because I’ve come to believe that creativity is the penultimate healer. The ultimate healer, of course, is love.
Dolancyr.com, email@example.com, Instagram: @dolancyr
On This Page
Ink on archival illustration board
Inherited Responsibility, Ink on archival illustration board
Excavating the Feminine Post Purity Culture
Excavating the Feminine, Post Purity Culture; Graphite and Ink on Paper
Reclaiming the Feminine Post Purity Culture
Reclaiming the Feminine, Post Purity Culture; Graphite and Ink on Paper
Deconstructing Love After Exile No. 1
Deconstructing Love After Exile No. 1, Ink on Paper
Deconstructing Love After Exile No. 2
Deconstructing Love After Exile No. 2, Ink on Paper
Me Not Me/Mine Not Mine No. 3
Me Not Me / Mine Not Mine No. 3, Watercolor on Paper
Me Not Me/Mine Not Mine No. 4
Me Not Me / Mine Not Mine No. 4, Watercolor on Paper
Me Not Me/Mine Not Mine No. 7
Me Not Me / Mine Not Mine No.7, Graphite on Paper
Exile Year One
Exile Year One, Collage on Panel
Exile Year Twenty-one
Exile Year Twenty-one, Collage on Panel
Nature vs. Nurture No. 1
Nature Vs. Nurture No.1, Collage on Panel
Nature vs. Nurture No. 2
Nature Vs. Nurture No.2, Collage on Panel