Irene F. Sullivan is an artist and writer whose work is informed by philosophy, the ecologies of Northern Peoples, and poetry. This creates unique diversity and view in her paintings and the milieus she creates to exhibit them. She holds advanced degrees in Theology, Religious Studies, and Trauma Nursing and is the co-author of the award-winning Dictionary of Native American Mythology. She has been the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, American Philosophical Society Field Research Grant, Tenot Foundation Bursary and an NEA Colorado Career Advancement Award.
Sullivan lived in the Alaskan and Canadian Arctic for nearly a decade. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship for her research about Female Shamanism found in Greenlandic narratives as well as an American Philosophical Society Grant for her work with Canadian subarctic storytelling practices.
Her studio is located in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado where she resides with her husband, two dogs, horse and forest animals.
My art practice is best described by the Inuktitut word ikiaqivik. It literally means to travel across time and space to search for what is missing. I search across time and space to “breathe shape into all that is vanishing.” Engaging in an active response to philosophy is part of ikiaqivik. My philosophy project nourishes my art practice. It is about developing a “new poetics” of painting as I re-claim and re-conceive the resources buried within my reading of philosophy. This challenges me to re-examine what I have taken to be ‘true’ so I may re-value my own values as woman, artist, and thinker. The influence of philosophy in my painting practice reveals and re-frames the ways I think, write and speak about my work as an artist.
For the visible world in combination with our inner selves provides the realm where we may seek infinity for the individuality of our own souls. In the best art this search has always existed. – Max Beckman