Irene Nedelay is a Russian-American artist who is not easily categorized.

She was born in the city of Novosibirsk, sometimes regarded as an unofficial capital of Siberia.

In her youth, Irina studies Art in Novosibirsk. In 1984, she attended the Art Institute of Novosibirsk State University and graduated with a Master of Arts in Fine Art (MFA) in 1989.

After graduating, she worked in Siberia as an art teacher, a muralist, a commercial artist in advertising, and as a scene designer. She also worked as an illustrator in publishing houses in Moscow.

After graduating from university, Irina's passion for painting grew: "It's not about what you want to do or what you like to do. It's just about what you can't live without . . . like without food or sleep . . . Though, sometimes you just give up food and sleep for the sake of painting."

"It was a very difficult time for me," Irina admitted when asked about her life in Siberia. "The Soviet Union collapsed and we had to live under the debris of that monster. I had to survive with my oldest daughter, alone without any help. I usually worked during the day and painted during the night in my tiny kitchen. We were living in a very small studio apartment … I spent most of the night with my paintings. The night was the time of my freedom …"

In her early works (1980s-1990s), Irina used tempera on wood, an old Russian technique. Many of her painting depict the people of Siberian villages who lived far from civilization, living self-sufficiently in almost complete wilderness. She painted them in an austere, ascetic matter, using only a few colors. She "tried to memorize the impression of simple people who withstand a lot of hardship and challenges with dignity and never lose hope."

These paintings often include only one or two female figures against a blue background. Sometimes they are depicted in a Siberian landscape, angels, animals and other symbols.

At the time, Irene's art was influenced by Siberian iconography. She considers it the highest achievement when an artist is able say a lot by small means.

In Siberia, Irene participated in many group shows and performances with other young artists and musicians. She became widely known after several solo shows that were held in Novosibirsk in 2000.

In 2003, Irene moved to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where she continued to paint and exhibit her work. She participated in several group exhibitions and various art movements.

In Saint Petersburg, her style continued to develop in: "Before moving to Saint Petersburg, I began to feel very lonely in Siberia despite the fact that I had two daughters and many friends. I felt like the rest of the world was so far from me… We only had one museum in our city, which was full of Lenin's portraits and just a small collection of Siberian Icons… We didn't have good examples of architecture. From time to time just seeing and old-timey house would make me feel a little better… We were very far from any culture or art objects. It does not mean that I do not love Siberia. Maybe, it is the only place which I really love, but it became difficult for me to live so far from European museums, theaters, and from European culture in general. Besides, the cold weather took a toll on me both emotionally any physically…"

In Saint Petersburg, new images and themes began to emerge in Irene's art. She began painting Greek and Venetian landscapes and fragments of Saint Petersburg's architecture. Some of her painting began to resemble patchwork. They seemed as if she was in a rush to communicate as much as she could, as if each painting could have been her last.

Irene had always admired Rembrandt, Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, and Van Dongen. Growing up in Siberia, she had only been able to see reproductions of these artworks. In Saint Petersburg, she finally had the chance to see the artists' original works. She went to the State Hermitage Museum every week to see these paintings. She felt a metaphysical connection to them – as if she was in conversation with the artists themselves.

She began to experiment in the style of naïve art through portraiture and still lives.

Irene began to travel throughout Europe. In the Crete Islands in Greece, she fell in love with the blue color of the sea and the sky. This color began to emerge more and more throughout her paintings.

In 2009, Irene moved to New York where her style transformed once again.

Irene has said that living far from Siberia has been a sort of miracle. She began to recall her childhood and youth, prompting her to write. Subsequently, many of her stories have been published in Russian.

These memories shaped Irene's newfound artistic practice. Her paintings began to tell the story of her family, who were exiled from Belarus to Siberia by Josef Stalin before World War II. Her grandmother consequently raised six children in the severe Siberian climate.

Irene has met a lot of people in the United State who claim that their grandparents and great-grandparents had come to America after escaping from Siberia during exile. Irene does not believe that this could have been true due to Stalin's totalitarian control, the brutal climate, and its isolation from the rest of the world.

"I was very surprised to realize that educated American who read or even study in college 1984 so far from the real understanding of what it was to really live under Orwellian regime which we had in Stalin's Russia. I began to understand the silent heroism of my Belarus grandmother who spent all her life after exile in Siberia."

In her contemporary work, Irene creates her own space and her own world—an imaged Siberia. She conveys a tangible sense of time and space. Time streams inside her canvases. It flows from one side to the other, swallowing object, reflecting the way the passage of real time steals our lives and our memories. Irene says that the blue background in her paintings represent her memories from Siberia. Her style of painting is an amalgamation of influences from Old Russian iconography, the Russian avant-garde, naïve art, and "rayonism." It consists of simultaneous elements of realism, abstraction, and surrealism. She believes that through her work, she can reestablish the lost link between avant-garde Russian art of the early 20th century and contemporary art. Irene is attempting to bridge this gap in Russian art history, a history that was interrupted by Josef Stalin's reign of terror that caused a mass of Russian immigration the first half of the 20th century.

In 2015, Irene began to make sculptures using wood and wool. She carves and felts indigenous Siberian guardian spirits and gods. She wants to introduce these sacred objects into the Hudson Valley landscape through Shamanic ceremonies. With the help of her assistant and associate Igor Koroshevsky, Irene made a shamanic tambourine using deer hide and birch in the same fashion as Siberian shamans. In this same year, she held her first shamanistic performance in the Hudson Valley. Despite her Orthodox Christian heritage, Irene believes in Nature too. She thinks that nature can help us a great deal if we respect it and show it

Throughout 2010-2016, Irene participated in several group shows and held more than a dozen solo-shows across the United States. She has also held solo-shows in Great Britain, Germany, and Russia.

In 2011, she became a member of the National Association of Woman Artists (N.A.W.A.) and won the JP Morgan Chase Arts in Our Communities Grant. The following year, she won the Audrey Hope Shirk Memorial Award for "Works on Canvas." In 2013, Irene was awarded the N.A.W.A. Medal of Honor and the Elizabeth Stanton Blake Memorial Award.

Irene now lives in New York City and works in her studio in Staten Island.