Back in January, we introduced you to Virmarie DePoyster—an artist in residency with the Arkansas Arts Council and teacher at the Arkansas Arts Center—and her incredible story.

Adding to her list of awesome accomplishments, the Tri-Mission Art Gallery at the U.S. Embassy in Rome has chosen to feature an exhibition of Virmarie's work during the month of September. She and her husband, David, will also be traveling to the embassy to check out (and celebrate!) the exhibition.

We're super excited about this news, so we thought we'd catch up with Virmarie and hear all about it, straight from the source. Here's what we found out.


Soirée: How did this opportunity come about? Can you explain those details for us?

Virmarie: I have a high school friend who is a collector of my work. He works at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy, for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division recovering and returning stolen works of art. Last year, he emailed me and asked if he could give my contact information to curators there and if I would consider having a solo exhibition there.

I got home and told my husband, "I've got this opportunity to be considered to have an exhibition at the U.S. Embassy, and I am not sure what to do." He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "What do you mean you don't know what to do? You say yes!" ...So I submitted my information and photos of my work, and then I waited, waited and waited for three months, and the rest is history! 

Left: "All That Glitters Isn't Gold"

Right: "Her Last Dance"


S: Tell us about your exhibit that will be on display.

V: My exhibition is titled "Revelation: New Works by Virmarie DePoyster." ...These pieces were inspired by an illustrated children's Bible that I used growing up in Puerto Rico. One day, I had a realization that whether I liked it or not, my life is made up of many layers. Everything I've experienced, whether good or bad, morphs and affects what I do daily and how I react to things.

As an artist, I am a visual story teller, so I started soul searching about my life story and how it relates to my work. My goal has always been to be whole-hearted in my work, and I felt I was at a crossroads where I had to decide how much of my past I was okay with revealing in my quest to tell my story. These works are what came from that experience.

In them, I openly start addressing issues of spirituality, identity and human connection that have always been the "behind the scenes" part of my work. The works have layers of my past and layers of my current human experience. In some of the pieces, the layers of my past clearly show, and in others, they are totally covered, suggesting that the total sum of our experiences are connected as we choose to reveal what we want others to see. At first, I created some pieces in acrylic and oil, but the pastel medium is all about layering, and in the end, it was what I gravitated to most and was a perfect fit to tell my story.

S: What does this kind of honor mean to you as an artist?

V: As with any job anyone is passionate about, it is always wonderful to have affirmation about one's work. I often say that I leave all of me at the easel, so it makes me feel good that my work is appreciated internationally. This will be my first international exhibition, and I feel honored that my work will be shown in a city so rich with art, poetry, music, literature, education and culture.

S: What does it mean for the AAC?

V: For the Arkansas Arts Center, it adds luster to the service the Arts Center provides to the community by having a teacher reach this height of achievement. It is an inspiration to other artists in our programs and instills in everyone a sense of pride. 


S: And you're going to Italy to see it? How exciting! Tell us all about it.

V: My husband David and I are going for the artist reception hosted by the Community Liaison Office towards the end of the show. I will also be teaching a pastel class to U.S. Embassy personnel while there. I am always excited to be able to share my love for the pastel medium, and can't wait to learn something from artists in Rome because I feel I will forever be a student.   


And there's your first look at Virmarie's Italian exhibit. Once it returns from Rome, the public will have a chance to see the show in November at the Argenta Gallery in North Little Rock. To learn more about Virmarie, check out her artist statement on her website, and read our Person of Interest profile on Virmarie from January.