Exhibit in NYC Honors Women's History Month
In honor of Women’s History Month, it is a fitting time to visit the National Women’s Association of Artists exhibition in New York, located in the center of the Garment District. For the vast majority of April, the organization portrays Irene Nedelay’s exhibition, Siberian Spirit. The title pretty accurately captures the exhibit as a whole; when you first walk into the studio, your eyes are filled with whites and icy blues, immediately allowing the spectator to be taken from sunny, downtown Manhattan to the frigid climates of St. Petersburg, where Nedelay found a lot of the inspiration for her work.
Born in the city of Novosibirsk, Nedelay attended the Art Institute of Novosibirsk State University, where she began her art career. After graduating, she continued to work as an art teacher, a muralist, a commercial advertising artist, and scene designer. Nedelay had a true passion for painting: “It’s not about what you want to do. It’s just about what you can’t live without… like food or sleep… Though, sometimes you just give up food and sleep for the sake of painting.” The striking paintings certainly reflect her passion for the art and grant the spectator a glimpse into Nedelay’s influences for her works. Nedelay grew up in the Soviet Union, where she observed the hardships of her village along with her own personal hardships, which both have key roles in work. Many of the paintings in the exhibit portray Siberian landscapes and are often centered around figures that may have been most influential in Nedelay’s life.
A considerable number of these figures are, in fact, women, and the sculptural pieces found in the exhibit are also abstractions of a woman-like figure. The women are usually centered on the canvas with their gaze directly towards the viewer. With faces full of emotion, they reflect the experiences of Nedelay’s hardships in the Soviet Union, but their stature suggests their dignity, which gives them the strength to face their hardships. Other paintings contain symbols, such as angels or animals, which give the exhibit a spiritual feeling.
Nedelay uniquely ties her cultural heritage to traveling and residing in different countries. For instance, in St. Petersburg, she began to paint the architecture of the city and picked up a stylistic element that is akin to patchwork, which is found in many of her paintings. In the Crete Islands of Greece, she picked up her frequent use of the color blue, which was influenced by the color of the sea and the sky. The blue color is very personal to Nedelay, as it represents her memories from Siberia, according to the artist.
The exhibit truly does feel focused on traditional Russian artwork, mixed with influences from other parts of the world. As you walk around and look at each painting, it conveys a story through its vibrant colors and bold stylistic elements. The paintings evoke emotion among the viewer, allowing them to empathize with the hardships that the subjects of the paintings experience.