In Ann Irwin's universe, the unexpected becomes commonplace and the commonplace is never exactly what you expect. Houses sprout heads and rays of fire. Hills bristle with stick figures. Trees grow ribs and skulls. These transformations can be both ominous and optimistic, witty and wise; they arose from a life committed to creativity and represented a daily triumph over adversity. Organized by the Michener Art Museum
, this exhibition is drawn from the private collection of Irwin's family and samples several decades of her collage work and is on display in the Pfundt Gallery from July 9th through October 16th, 2011.
Born in 1942 in New York, Irwin grew up in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, and studied at the Boston Museum School and the Tyler School of Art. After years of travel, she settled in Bucks County where she apprenticed at the Moravian Tile Works, and began to create highly-detailed, meticulously crafted collages, using old books, fabric, and found objects. Over several decades she quietly produced an extensive body of work, rich in a deeply personal mythology that featured imaginative images of birds, houses, trees, and flowers. In spite of serious and ongoing health problems, she continued to visit her studio every day, making complex works that sometimes expressed her fears and troubles, but were often whimsical and light-hearted as well. Even during her final illness in 2005, when she was confined to a hospital bed for several weeks, she continued to draw and make collages until just a few days before she died.