Tonya Engel was born in Houston, Texas and travelled extensively in the US and Europe before settling down in her
studio in Brooklyn, NY. Tonya Engel is a self-taught painter.
After a short-lived exploration in her earlier career with abstract painting, she began to totally concentrate on
figurative form mixed with the emotion and expressionistic boldness that makes her works resolutely contemporary.
Over the years, my work has been a vehicle for story-telling and a
opportunity to share memories and dreams.. My own inner child
continues to imagine, What if?...
Very often people are curious, 'who is that girl in the paintings?'
I tend to use my own face or loved ones as models, which are readily available in my
minds eye and I happen to know so well. I use them symbolically
and am not especially preoccupied with academic precision. Instead, I want to
get to the skin underneath; fears, self-exploration & identity, emotions, and their
relationships with the subconscious.
My most recent series includes domestic settings of children that are often frolicking in
curious game-play within flowery wallpapered rooms. Upon closer inspection they are
surprisingly adult-like and alive within the narrative worlds that they are able to imagine
I am also interested in the relationship between physical objects and longing or
remembering -specifically the experience of looking at an old piece of fabric, a photo,
or old dress and the idea of it containing a lost moment or a key to a heart's desire..
Selected Honors/ Awards
Austin Energy NOW, International Cash Prize (Juried Show) 2002
City of Austin/ State of Texas Cultural Contracts Community Project Funding 2002, 2003 &' 04
Juxtaposition, D. Berman Gallery Juried Show Cash Prize Award 2002