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Gouache, Glue + Guts: Helena Wurzel Paints Her Way

Helena Wurzel's studio: gouache tubes, paper, and jars of YES! glue for her gouache + paper creations

When we’re thirsting for a piece to pump some electricity into our art collection, we’re wont to turn to Helena Wurzel, whose cool factor, bright color palette, and topsy-turvey take on perspective always keep us on our toes. Wurzel’s been part of the 20x200 artist roster since wayyyy back in the day—2011, to be exact (!!!). Through the years we’ve watched her work evolve, and its newest metamorphoses are as refreshing and ingenious as always...

Just last year, Wurzel was awarded a grant by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, an organization that acknowledges artistic excellence and creative ability. Assessed anonymously by a panel of established artists and arts professionals, the MCC’s fellowships foster emerging artists, providing them with some of the resources they require to enrich their craft and take their career to the next level. As a finalist, Wurzel’s painting work is publicized through the MCC’s online showcase, Gallery@MCC, and on their blog.

Which begs the question: in what new ways has Wurzel been flexing her creative prowess of late? Well, she’s been awfully busy with perhaps the most impressive creative process of all—brewing up a baby! Wurzel’s second child is on the way. In fact, if our math is on point (always a questionable thing), baby number two is due any day now. When we touched base with the Cambridge, MA based artist for this Artist Spotlight, she explained “I have found it difficult to oil paint while working full time, chasing after my almost 2-year old, and being 8 months pregnant.” Her hands. They’re full.

But that hasn’t stopped Wurzel from making artwork. Heck no. “I think it is really important to figure out different modes of working as life circumstances continually change,” she told us. “Lately, working with gouache on paper has been my way to engage with my work because there is minimal set-up and cleanup time, so I can paint in my free moments with more ease.” Navigating life’s twists and turns is surely a challenge for any artist, but one that has the potential to push the creative process into inspiring new territory. It takes guts, but Wurzel’s got ‘em.

We’ve spent the last few weeks drooling over Wurzel’s new collage work. Her paintings have often centered around women—in moments of relaxation, quiet reflection, celebration, excavation. These compositions are packed with punchy colors and bold patterns, commanding the mood with utter confidence, and an imaginative eye. Though she has plenty of experience painting her home life, her collages are suggestive of a new approach. “I have been focused on the different rooms of my home and how having a child has impacted them. They are portraits about home, parenthood, and marriage,” the artist tells us. All we know is: we want them on our walls.

Below, a sampling of Wurzel's new work, gouache on paper pieces focusing on home, family, and (because we're *all* obsessed) Game of Thrones.