Gina Werfel is an American abstract painter whose work uses vivid color, lyrical gesture, and complex compositional structures to explore harmonies within visual space. Raised on Long Island, she currently lives and works near Sacramento, California, where she is a Professor of Art at the University of California, Davis.
Werfel received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Kirkland College (now part of Hamilton College), in Clinton, New York and post-graduated at the New York Studio School. She then earned her Masters of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University in New York. She is also the recipient of a number of prestigious fellowships and grants, and leads a distinguished career as a professor of art, a visiting university lecturer, and an artist in residence at important schools and institutions around the world.
Werfel works with a mixture of oils, acrylics and mixed media on canvas. Her background is in landscape painting, which helped her develop a keen eye for light, color relationships, and compositional harmony. As she transitioned into abstraction, she heightened her ability to use those sensibilities to convey emotional and atmospheric states within pictorial space. In her abstract paintings, she employs expressive, lyrical gestures that create bursts of movement and energy. Her color choices create a range of tones from the muted and serene to the vibrant and electric. In addition to traditional brushwork, she incorporates mediums like spray paint and stencils to build layered, complex, and expressive compositions.
Recent travels abroad have influenced Werfel’s work. Inspired by a stay in Singapore in 2015 where she taught at Yale-NUS College, she began to employ spray-painted stencils over gestural brush marks, making use of everyday textured materials as well as Chinese New Year’s decorations from Singapore. In 2016 while a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, Werfel renewed her interest in Baroque ceiling paintings and incorporated their spatial complexity into compositions. She began to empty out the center and vary the density of marks.
Werfel’s work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. Recent solo exhibitions include the Coombs Gallery at American University of Paris, France, Korn Gallery at Drew University, NJ, Prince Street Gallery in NYC, and the Mondavi Winery in Napa, CA. She has been awarded residencies at the American Academy in Rome, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy, the Djerassi Foundation in California, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the International School of Painting in Montecastello di Vibio, Italy and Yosemite National Park. In 2017, Werfel completed a multi-panel public art commission Clearing for Burnett Miller Park in Sacramento.
Werfel’s training includes Columbia University (MFA), New York Studio School (Certificate) and Hamilton College (BA).