“You will cease to be powerless.”

Women Shamans of Greenland

Judas Ullulaq, Female shaman drummer with two
helping spirits, 1979 – 1985
Stone, antler, whalebone, hair, 16 x 13 x 8 in.
Alaska on Madison – A gallery of indigenous Northern Art


Painting and The Work of Luce Irigaray, A Critical Meeting.

1. Sexuate awareness and giving birth to oneself as woman and artist.

My initial reading of Luce Irigaray’s comments on the German surrealist artist Unica Zurn ( 1916-1970) ‘failing to be born’ as a woman and an artist1 with the subsequent comment of this as an example of “woman’s deadly relation to patriarchy”2 resonate within my artist journey and psyche-soul. It was not until delving further into Irigaray’s work that I came to realize I was only standing on one foot instead of having my two artist’s feet firmly planted in my awareness of what the sexuate means for me as a painter. This is a core philosophical practice issue. It goes unnamed and manifests in various ways. I have experienced, observed, and dialogued about this with women artist colleagues around the country. The dis-ease that manifests has its roots in the narrow and phallocentric readings of most Western philosophy. Dominant art theory paradigms often based in second hand interpretations of primary philosophical texts continue to coopt the language of art and the psyches of painters.



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