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Csilla Somogyi: The Artist at 80 – a retrospective
Csilla Somogyi: The Artist at 80 – a retrospective

Top: "Rugby", "Pilgrims"; Center: "Trees", "Abstract", "The Brook in Winter"; Bottom (not in exhibit): Mother and Child sculpture, Arany János (illustration in "A Sampler of Hungarian Poetry"), bas-relief

In celebration of her 80th  birthday, 29 works of art, of varying sizes, by Csilla Somogyi – a sampling of her work – are on exhibit at the Madison Art Cinema in Madison, CT.  Included are acrylic paintings, linocuts, etchings, lithographs, watercolors and collages.

Her favorite subjects include landscapes, particularly as viewed through a screen of trees, and mother-and-child compositions.  A series of large paintings present the explosive movement of sports. Some Hungarian folk motifs may be seen in a few of her pieces.

She was born Csilla Makay, daughter of Árpád Makay, a successful cinematographer active in Hungary’s vibrant film industry.  Her mother was a gifted artist who wanted to become an art teacher.  Both her parents were born in Transylvania and moved to Budapest when that area became part of Romania as a result of the Treaty of Trianon.  World War II literally ”hit” close to home, when their apartment building was destroyed in an air raid.

Between the ages of 8 and 12, Csilla and her family were often separated.  She spent two years in a Church-sponsored foster care in Switzerland.  Finally reunited with her brother and parents, she emigrated to the US in 1952.  It has been my privilege to know Csilla since then.

In New York City, Csilla attended Music and Art High School.  Although in college she majored in Biology, she continued taking art courses, first at Columbia University, and after she was married and moved to Connecticut, at the Cheshire Creative Arts Workshop. 

In the 1980s, she received an Associate degree in Sculpture from the University of Bridgeport, while serving as President of the Cheshire Art League.  She has sculptured pieces in clay, plaster and wood.

Her many-sided artistic talent is expressed also in embroidery, drawing on the rich tradition of Hungarian folk motifs. And like most Hungarian women, she is also a master of the culinary arts!

Ilona Somogyi, one of Csilla’s three daughters, explained: ”Our mom never had a chance to follow her artistic dream – she devoted herself to her kids, her husband, and her community... (W)e thought what better way to celebrate her artistic accomplishments than by really showing them off in the most public of ways – an exhibit.” 

Csilla and her orthopedic surgeon husband, Dr. Balazs Somogyi, are the parents of three daughters, and they have one grandson.  Together, they are vital members of the Wallingford Hungarian community. 

In connection with the exhibit, Csilla is featured on the front cover of the February 20th issue of The Cheshire Citizen. Her reaction to all this?  As quoted in the newspaper article, ”seeing the artwork she’s created through the years on the Madison Art Cinema gallery walls was the best kind of surprise.” 


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