Hilary Irons headshot

Hilary Irons

Assistant Professor

Dept. : Foundation

“Teaching is both a communicative form and an expressive form for me. One of the things I value most about working with my students is the wide‐ranging differences in perspective that come with the creative efforts of very different minds working together on a common problem. It is very important to me to give my students strong, flexible traditional drawing skills, because accurate drawing is a cognitive skill that translates to so many other creative expressions and media (these cognitive skills also give depth to non‐art study). With a solid, confident skill set in drawing from life, a great deal of diversity and a wide set of artistic conclusions are possible. I also believe that students learn as much from seeing each other's work process as from my directions, so with that in mind I hope to foster a strong sense of respectful community in my classes.”

Hilary Irons earned her BFA from Parsons School of Design in 2002 and began teaching at Yale School of Art, where she earned her MFA. She studied as a private student with painter Sigmund Abeles and maintains a studio in the Artists Studio Building in Portland. While her work has become more stylistically diverse with time, some consistent themes remain: how does the juxtaposition of naturalism and abstraction (in the context of composition) mirror the human experience in the natural world, and how does this relate to our use and interpretation of our natural habitat? What kind of power dynamics are at work in the relationship between people and the land? How have landscape painting and geometrical abstraction traditionally approached this dynamic? Her site‐specific work was recently included in the group exhibit “Knock Knock” at Mayo Street Arts.



● Leon Levy Foundation Grant to attend a MacDowell Colony residency.

● Residency at Hewnoaks ● Al Held Prize to attend the American Academy in Rome

● Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture grant


Hilary enjoys reading all kinds of novels, new and old, especially those by Rachel Cusk, Elena Ferrante, Tessa Hadley, and Karl Ove Knausgaard. She enjoys spending time with her daughter, who hopes to be a robot scientist in the future. When Hilary was a child she lived without electricity or running water until she was about seven ‐‐ a formative experience that continues to influence her interests and art practice.

Hilary’s Website