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Meet Helena Wurzel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Helena Wurzel.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am a painter, educator, wife, and mother. I have always loved art and after undergrad I got my MFA in Painting from Boston University in 2007. This helped pave the way for a career in teaching while, simultaneously maintaining an active studio practice. I adjunct taught at many different schools in the Boston area for seven years. It was hard work and low pay, but it afforded me the time to have at least two days of studio time during the week. During this time, I also worked as an artist representative for Gamblin Oil Colors and Strathmore Paper. These jobs taught me a ton about materials and helped me grow as a painter. In 2014, I left adjunct work for secondary education. I now have a full-time job teaching painting at Buckingham Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge.

In addition to teaching, I have been fortunate to have had professional opportunities in painting. I have worked with the online start-up: www.20× since 2011, which sells high quality archival prints of my work. It was through this venue that a design director at Kate Spade saw the painting “My Butt” and asked me to paint an ad campaign for the promotion of the Saturday line. I worked with the company from their launch in 2012 until they closed in 2015. Jonathan Adler, a design guru, saw my work in a Saturday store and I displayed my work in his retail stores in Miami, Los Angeles, and online from 2015-2018. I have also won Massachusetts Cultural Council Grants in 2010 and 2016.

My life keeps changing and it has been important to be flexible and adjust my studio practice as needed. As a mother of two young children I have less time than I used to, so I often make smaller works on paper with gouache if I don’t have time to oil paint. For me, I just need to keep moving and making work.

Please tell us about your art.
I make paintings of women. They are depictions of my girlfriends and myself in singular moments of self-reflection and celebration. Whether capturing a glance between friends, an irreverent bootie shot, or someone daydreaming, the figures tend to not face the viewer, but rather to each be in a contemplative state. I pay attention to the weather and the changing light throughout the day; this impacts my color choices and the fleeting moment I am trying to capture. Formal elements such as color, light, and tightly cropped spaces help create specific moods. My style tends to be bold and graphic. Fashion photography has always been an influence and I love to include sunglasses, jewelry, and bathing suits (I often paint summery beach scenes) as a way of adding reflections, texture, or pattern. I hope to unlock something extraordinary in everyday scenes. My work is tied to the reality and imagination inherent in the feminine realm.

Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
The most important thing is to keep making your work, letting things in, live your life, and believe in your own voice. No one can say what you need to say better than you. Be generous: it’s hard to be a painter and it is important to have a community. Doubt, struggle, risk, and luck are all part of the process and your peers help you remember that art is important. It is not about instant gratification: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My website: or my Instagram @laniewurzel80. I will be showing a piece in the upcoming Paper Cut exhibition at Musa Collective in Boston that runs from July 14th-August 25th. I will be showing there again in the fall for a night painting themed exhibition. I also have a small studio space in my home.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dan Weissman

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