6.1 min readBy Published On: October 1st, 2011Categories: Arts and Entertainment, Lifestyle3 Comments on Got Art?

Artist Spotlight:  Vanessa Irzyk

Written by Kathleen Bitetti

(Plus- up coming South Boston  Fall Open Studios- Mark your calendars!)

I recently had the chance to visit Vanessa Irzky at her Distillery studio.  She was  busy getting ready to install her solo show entitled, Moving Forward: New and Recent Works that will be on view at The Distillery Gallery from September 29 to November 1, 2011.  Irzky is showing several bodies of work that were completed in 2011.











The main gallery will show her most recent abstract mixed media works. These new works have eye popping color and dynamic compositions. Her process for this body of work is an additive and organic one. She states, “Colored matte board provides an influential surface upon which lines, shapes, patterns and collage is applied….through use of opposing colors, vibration and movement arise.” Most of the works are 18″ x24″ in size (unframed).

Her small scale square portraits will be installed in the smaller gallery space.  These work are from her “Green vs Red” series of acrylic paintings on green or red primed canvases. These paintings range from 4 “x4″ to 8″x8” and are of close up portraits of people’s faces. She paints “individuals experiencing a range of emotions from fear to ecstasy to elation or doubt….I paint strangers that are extracted form their surroundings, isolate them and give them a place to exist.”

All the work is for sale and it is very affordable ranging from $150 to $500 (framed). 



Q & A with artist Vanessa Irzyk

Kathleen Bitetti- How long have you had a studio at the Distillery?

Vanessa Irzky: I’ve been at the Distillery since 2007. The day my studio-mates and I graduated from Massart was the day we signed the lease and I have been there ever since.
KB:  How would you best describe the kind of art you make?

VI: Currently I’ve been working on an abstract series. My main drives are color and shape. Whether I paint faces or spaces it’s the shape of the stroke that interests me.
KB: The term mixed media is used often but rarely does it accurately describe the materials someone is using. Can you give some  insight to what materials you use/combine to make your work?

VI: I recently was interested in gelatin prints, a really easy process of painting onto thick gelatin (from the grocery store) putting paper on top, and printing it onto the paper. I utilized a lot of monoprints that I crop and introduce into my abstract work. I also collage from magazines, found paper, and other paintings on paper I’ve done.
KB: This new body of work seems to be a departure from your figurative work, yet there is a clear visual connection to some of your earlier work from 2006 and 2007. Your thoughts?

VI: These recent paintings have been really fun to do. I paint from my intuition, it’s a part of who I am and what I’m attracted to: movement, framing, and fluid shapes.
KB: What lead you to go in this seemingly new direction?

VI: I was becoming disinterested in the portraits I was doing. I needed a change to keep me engrossed and challenge myself. It all started when I had to buy a sheet of matte board to frame a painting for someone. I started painting and collaging onto it and it went from there.
KB: What is your process? Do you work from drawings? From a sketchbook? From photographs (ie the figurative works)? Do you do project based bodies of work?

VI: I don’t work from sketchbooks, I never have. The abstract paintings are reactionary. I start with one shape or area and build on it from there; each stroke creates a problem I need to solve. Some situations are harder than others, which keeps it exciting. As for the figurative work, I use images of people from magazines (namely National Geographic) or from the web. I seek out expressions that catch my eye and make me wonder what has happened to that person or what they are going through.
KB: Can you talk about the range of the scale of your works? Some range from 2″x2″ while others are 48″ x 24″.  Does the project/body of work dictate the scale or does that  occur organically in your creating process?

VI: Scale changes with different series. I like the intimacy of small work (I created 100, 2″ x 2″ pieces for a solo show) but I also like to switch it up and try some large scale work. I work in one scale for a period of time, eventually get bored with it and try something new. Before these larger abstract pieces I was painting faces on 2″ half circle wooden shapes. My materials inform the process of how I paint.
KB:  You seem to have a real love of brilliant popping color- for your more figurative work, was it a challenge to stay with in the “flesh scale”?

VI: I am not a photorealistic painter and have never wanted to be. I strive to capture the essence or mood of a person rather than match the colors. I find it fascinating to see how shapes and shades work together to build a face.
KB: I saw on your website that you had a body of work that you made for the  “Oh Nancy Project”.  What is the “Oh Nancy Project”?

VI: The “Oh Nancy Project” is a project created by artists Fionn McCabe and Nate Wellman. They created a story around a girl named Nancy and had a collective group of artists make work about it. For more information about the story and the Project go to: http://www.ohnancy.com/
For more information on the artist: http://vanessairzyk.com/

Distillery Gallery Hours: 9am to 5pm, Monday-Saturday, and by appointment.  Address: 516 East Second Street, 02127 More info: http://www.gallery.distilleryboston.com/

Fall South Boston Open Studios- free and open to the public:


Fort Point Arts Community  (in zip code 02210)
Friday October 14th: Preview selected studios 4:00-7:00pm
All participating locations open
Saturday and Sunday  October 15 and 16: 11:00am-6:00pm

Visitors to FPAC Open Studios can explore more than 10 buildings in the Fort Point neighborhood, plus galleries and creative design shops. All buildings are in easy walking distance of each other. Free participatory art-making activities for children will take place at Made in Fort Point, FPAC’s store and gallery at 12 Farnsworth Street.


South Boston Open Studios (in zip code 02127)
November 5 & 6 
Noon – 6pm

The artists and crafts people of the Distillery Building (516 East Second Street) and the King Terminal Buildings (110 K St. & 570 East 1st St.) open their studios to the public in November. Venture out and meet artists working right in your own neighborhood  all with in walking distance of all the goings on that happen on East Broadway.

For a complete list of all the Fall Boston Open Studios:



  1. Maureen Dahill October 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    These images are amazing and haunting.  Her use of color is so vibrant.  I can’t wait to see this show!

  2. Maureen Dahill October 1, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Great article kathy!

  3. Tom December 18, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing. Tom canvas prints

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