Artist STATEMENT & Bio

Artist Statement

My ongoing series began in 2011 with a portrait of the great French self-portrait artist, Claude Cahun   The mission of my work is to unearth unknown and/or unacknowledged women artists and culture-makers of the early to mid 20th Century who worked in a milieu that provides the foundation for much of the art and culture we know today. 

My ongoing series entitled, Left Bank Women, are large works on paper with watercolor, colored pencil, cut paper and collaged elements. These works are imaginative portraits of an international set of women artists, writers and impresarios, working, living and loving at the advent of modernism. 

Beginning with a premise that relationships with others provide fuel for lives well-lived and work well done, each piece tends to highlight an important relationship/s in the life of my subject. I begin by studying her own writing or memoir, biography, public works or artworks. My process is improvisational arising out of a spark which comes through from my literary investigation. 

With painting and hand drawing, I use a variety of patterning: Ukrainian folk patterns, French wallpaper, Elizabethan-era design. Often I incorporate text, English, Greek, etc. and musical notes as patterns which help to express the biography of my subject and to shape the design of the tableaux. My work owes a bit to Surrealism, the Pattern and Decoration movement of the 1970's, Feminism in its many waves and Naive or "Outsider" art.


Bio: Irys Schenker received a Post Baccalaureate Certificate from the San Francisco Art Institute and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Upon graduation she participated in the First Liverpool Biennial in the UK and showed in the group show, Interviews: New American Art at Kappatos Gallery in Athens, Greece.

She participated in "Face Value," at White Columns in New York City in 2000 and was a guest at Yaddo in 2002. Additional shows at E31 Gallery, Athens, Greece, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in Snug Harbor, NY and Asya Geisberg Gallery in NYC, The Jewish Museum, San Francisco, and Bronx Museum of the Arts. Her works has been reviewed in Time Out NY and The New York Times

Irys was a laureate artist resident in Paris at La Cite international des arts in Summer 2017 and 2018.