1760 W. Arbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92103
Born in Long Beach, California in 1954, Irwin obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Humboldt State University and a Master of Fine Arts from San Diego State University. His work is in the collections of the Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; San Angelo Museum of Art, San Angelo, TX; and the Wustum Museum, Racine, WI; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA; Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum, Taiwan and the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Ireland. Currently living in San Diego, Irwin is a retired Professor in the Ceramics Department at Grossmont College, El Cajon, CA, having taught there from 1989 to 2017. He has exhibited extensively in the US and Internationally.
R.B. Stevenson Gallery, La Jolla CA
Eutectic Gallery, Portland OR
Cross Mackenzie Gallery, Washington DC
All of my work deals with the manipulation of nature by human forces and the struggle to find balance between our needs and that of the natural environment.
Utilizing the tree form as a metaphor for nature, and then manipulating that tree, I examine the uses and abuses we impose upon the natural world to make our lives better. The work questions our degree of need and the role nature must play to fulfill those demands. I use animal imagery to note the role animals take as icons, pets, and symbols in contemporary and ancient societies.
Beyond representing the manipulation of nature, the work also discusses our need to idealize that manipulation through dominance and the presentation of trophies. On deeper levels it alludes to power, ego, fear, precious, and loss. When working on ideas for pieces I look for contradiction, irony, and humor in the world that surrounds me. I like to take notice of both, how we impact this world and how we interpret that impact.
Using a relatively fragile material like clay to create this work serves to reinforce my message of the fragility of nature.
Artist's Statement: White Work
Inspired by animal trophies and images of twisting branches I have created a series of all white tree-like animals and twisted trees, which are meant to represent our manipulation of nature and our need to idealize that manipulation. For me the work alludes to power, ego, preciousness and loss.
I use a white satin glaze on the surface to support the subtleness of the forms and strengthen a sense of simplicity, clarity, spirituality, and transcendence between life and death.
Artist's Statement: Black and White Work
By creating a type of narrative which employs recognizable images as symbols and metaphors, I aim to provide new ways of perceiving and understanding issues. I refer to these works as symbolic narratives.
My work is also meant to provoke questioning both visually and conceptually.
I develop this narrative by placing these symbols in juxtaposition to their origins or in otherwise ironic settings. This conflict between expectation and contradiction is further reinforced by the placement of the drawings on the sculptural forms. In one area the sculptural character may be defined and strengthened by the drawings, while in other areas the form itself may be nullified. I use this pushing and pulling of space and illusion as another means of manipulating the viewer's perception. These conflicts and contradictions encourage a questioning atmosphere and direct the viewer to examine the ambiguities of reality, illusion and perception.
A consistent theme in my work involves integrating the human presence with the narrative. Though a recognizable figure is rarely depicted, I utilize images that refer to this presence.
My use of predominately black and white is influenced by German Expressionist Wood Block Prints.
When working on ideas for pieces I look for contradiction, irony and humor in the world that surrounds me. I like to take notice of both how we impact this world and how we interpret that impact.
Tiles and Plates
This body of work is motivated by an appreciation for nature and all that it gives us.
I often use imagery and symbols that speak to the manipulation of nature by human forces and our need to idealize that manipulation through dominance and control. My work explores the struggle in finding balance between our needs and those of the natural environment.
When working on ideas for pieces, I look for contradiction, irony, beauty, and humor in the world that surrounds me. I take notice of how we impact the natural world and how we interpret that impact.
This body of work utilizes commercial ceramic tiles and commercial plates as surfaces to apply laser toner transfers and scraffito technique drawings with black glaze. These two technigues are reminiscent of old sepia photographs and engravings. The plate stands are hand built or cast from earthenware clay, carved and then glazed.