A resident of Encinitas, Irene has been working continuously as an artist since receiving an MFA in Visual Arts in 2006. Her art has been deeply affected by her background as a research scientist working in molecular and cellular biology. Irene’s works are improvisations and fantasies based on the visualizations of information and data that are primary tools in science. They are created through a combined painting and drawing process and incorporate diverse sources such as images from scientific literature, graphs, number puzzles, Braille, and maps. Among many venues, her work has been exhibited in the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, American Jewish University in Los Angeles , Riverside Art Museum, La Jolla Athenaeum, Mesa College, Oceanside Museum of Art, Waldorf College in Iowa, Grossmont College and MiraCosta College.
The theme was portals. I kept thinking of doors and black holes and worm holes. Transporting from one place to another, from somewhere banal or even dangerous to somewhere better. The female figure, a reminder of a Sheela na gig, contains a portal to another world, a way out, a calm and peaceful place. As I was drawing, the world was overwhelming my brain: the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, hints of women’s rights being torn away, then the Uvalde school shooting. Men with guns, Supreme Court justices acting with very little actual justice on their minds. Wildfires, bombs, bullets, money. Very little peace. As women are portals to new generations, I imagine a great Earth Mother as a portal to a better place.
During pandemic lockdown, it was important to inhabit an altered consciousness, at least a little bit every day. I first noticed the “Portal House” while walking in my neighborhood during that lonely time. No two windows are alike; placement is haphazard, yet also purposeful. Is this intentional: eccentricity or expediency or something else?I shared the photo with Amanda Saint Claire, another member of the Feminist Image Group (FIG), who thought it could become a central image for our collaborative conversations. We named the places, persons, principles that were already part of our consciousness, and wondered how to reach them. In the painting “EscapeRoutes,” each window leak out some imagined thoughts of the inhabitants. There would be implied movement and safety at the same time. And we could hope for a conversation once the windows opened up again. FIG is very important to me, especially for conversations. These two art works came out of a conversation, and they are having a conversation with each other, and they are envisioning many more conversations to come. That kind of movement has been my hope and inspiration over many years of making art in solitude and community, and I’m grateful to the PHES Gallery for the chance to do it again.
I have always been preoccupied with the natural world, which continues to be the main subject of my artistic work. I find myself particularly drawn to the paradoxical issues of nature’s power and fragility, and its often-fraught relationship with humanity. This has led me to my current project exploring endangered birds and, more recently, birds that have become extinct in my lifetime and the lifetime of the Endangered Species Act. When I took on this project I started by conducting 6 months of research in order to create a database. I consulted the NAT’s Philip Unitt during this phase in order to verify that I was on the right track, and have subsequently been in touch with amateur ornithologists to better understand the challenges of tracking and recording species populations, particularly in remote regions of the world. I update this database on a biannual basis in order to account for the fact that this field is constantly changing…Human consumption and waste are conspicuous threats to the environment, and for my project to have the necessarily pointed weight it was important to choose materials that would provide commentary. Thus, I have drawn my series of endangered birds on paper I made from junk mail delivered to my home.