Friday, July 14, 2000

Pig Parade: Jiggin' Piggy

Pig helped artist through cancer

By Owen Findsen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

| ZOOM |
        This is 76th in a series spotlighting pigs from the Big Pig Gig Public Art Project taking place in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Find past pig profiles and event details at

        Artist: Cindy Matyi, 52, Columbia-Tusculum, an artist and musician in the Irish group Silver Arm.

        While creating “Jiggin Piggy,” Ms. Matyi was diagnosed with breast cancer. In spite of surgery and chemotherapy, she not only completed her pig, she agreed to do a second pig, “Sunlite Sowly,” for Coney Island. It is at Coney's Sunlite Pool.

        “Although a tremendous amount of time and effort went into making the pigs,” Ms. Matyi says, “it did keep my mind focused on the present rather than worrying about whether I'd be here six months from now.”

        Sponsor: Cincinnati Folk Life and the Dubliner Irish Pub.

        This pig's pen: Sawyer Point.

        You were inspired by: Like all my art, it is inspired by Celtic illumination, such as the art in The Book of Kells.

        What's the pig idea? He's a dancing pig and a musical pig, wearing a kilt and playing a concertina. He is decorated with Celtic spirals.

        You want people to look at this pig and think: I want them to think about the Cincinnati Celtic Music and Cultural Festival, Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

        Completing the project took: Three weeks.

        What's the matter? Sign painters' enamel.

        Your high on the hog was: The support of all my friends. My husband, Stephen, constructed the concertina out of fiberglass. Nancy Smith, who is a sculptor, helped me with the kilt.

        Pig peeve: Making the kilt out of chicken wire. We used nine spray cans of polyurethane foam to fill in the holes. It was like trying to sculpt marshmallow cream.

        Best pig tale: I don't have a garage, so the people at Coney Island let us use the pump room at Sunlite Pool to build both pigs. They were very helpful.

        My favorite pork dish: Chompin' on pork rinds.

        The materials cost: $300.

        Do you consider this art or porkography? It's illuminated porkography. It is art because a pig is part of nature and Celtic art is really tied in with nature.

        If your pig starred in a movie, who would you cast to play the role? Michael FATley.


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