Friday, September 26, 2008

Painter Hillary Irons visits TMS from McDowell Colony

Pictured is Hilary Irons, a painter at the McDowell Colony, who gave a wonderful talk and showed her work at TMS on Monday. Sadly, Hilary did not attend TMS as a young person -- but her sister (Lydia), brother (Asa), father (Henry) and uncle (Tony) all did! So when Hilary settled into a fellowship at McDowell --the oldest artists' colony in the U.S., in nearby Peterborough-- she wanted to come visit the Meeting School as well. On Monday she came for dinner (she lucked out -- Tom's sushi) and afterwards treated us to an hour-long presentation, including slides of her work, a lecture about her journey as a young adult into deciding to pursue being an artist, and questions-and-answers afterwards where students got to ask her what Parsons Design School was like (where she completed her undergraduate degree), why she decided to go to graduate school (she recently finished studying painting at Yale), and what high school was like for her. Her talk was gentle, engaging, inviting, and inspiring.
Students in the drawing class found her abstract paintings most interesting. Rebecca Faison '12 said "they were full of intense colors, and they could be looked at in different ways... really cool." Some appreciated her more activist side: Faith Jochum '09 observed that the abstract paintings were all about Irons' concern about nuclear waste and nuclear warfare; Faith especially pointed to Hilary's use of tourist and blog photos of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Pictured below are two of her paintings, used with her permission: an earlier work, and one of her more recent abstract works of the kind that caught the students' attention.In her talk about choosing to be an artist, she said, "The real requirement for taking this path is a willingness to look into your own creativity and accept it as important and valid. Then, even if your work is hard or confusing, or if success comes slowly, creative growth will be a constant. I hope that any of you who like making things will take your desire to do so seriously, and let your work open you up to the world around you."

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