65 Reflections – From A Painter’s Studio Journals

Irene F Sullivan


65 Reflection is a collection of written entries selected from my personal studio journals of 2002 through 2015. The entries are personal musings and poems. They also include quotes and poems from other artists who journeyed with me.

The geography of being an artist in the twenty-first century is diverse terrain in solitary beckoning into unknown places, and this book contains some of my reflective markers for my journey.


 Excerpts From The Arctic

Thirty years ago I had the privilege of entering the portal of life on the Bering seacoast of Alaska. That continuum is edged on my soul. I lived with seasonal ice flows, the dazzling darkness of arctic nights, and a vast silence. I watched, listened, photographed and wandered. The vast space of Tundra horizons and gentle laughter of Yupik people burned themselves into my psyche.

This book is my offering and wit(h)ness to the mystery and fragility of the Arctic which is dying.

I know of no other way to face death and destruction than to stand in wit(h)ness.



A Conversation with Irene Sullivan: Understanding of the Heart

by Richard Whittaker, May 18, 2008

It began with an email I received. Someone had discovered the magazine and had been touched, Irene Sullivan. A note like that is always a lift, but something compelled me to ask a question or two in response. It opened an exchange. After looking at Sullivan’s ice paintings, I learned that Sullivan had lived in the remote regions of Alaska providing health care as a nurse practitioner to the Inupiat speaking peoples there. This alone was enough to stimulate my interest, but later on, I learned several other things. Sullivan was an avid photographer. Her experiences with indigenous people had led her to a deep interest in the role of women in shamanic practices among arctic peoples. Eventually she found herself doing independent research as a Fulbright scholar in Denmark at the Institute of Eskomoligie. But before that, Sullivan had left her career as a nurse practitioner and had become an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church. Her ministry was in the sub-arctic region of northern Manitoba where she served three villages of the Cree people. She had gone there newly married to a Roman Catholic priest who had given up his orders and had been received as a priest in the Episcopal Church. Woven into the fabric of all this, besides her nursing credentials, Sullivan earned two Masters degrees and even did some work toward an MFA. Her education thus spans medicine, theology, cultural anthropology and art. Besides having done some university teaching, she is the coauthor, with Sam Gill, of the Dictionary of Native American Mythology. But even before I learned the amazing reach of Sullivan’s experience, I knew she was someone I wanted to talk with. And, as luck would have it, she and her husband, Will Reller, would be in Stinson Beach for a holiday in October, only an hour drive from Oakland. We met at a little motel there to talk… Read the full interview at or download it: ONLINE | PDF