The irony in the art of Morgan Irons

MORGAN IRONS (b. 1991), Evening Hands, 2018, oil on linen, 16 x 20 in., private collection
Morgan Irons (b. 1991), Evening Hands, 2018, oil on linen, 16 x 20 in., private collection

The irony in the art of Morgan Irons (b. 1991) is that she paints with the sensitivity and skill of someone twice her age. While her timeless subjects might convey the impression that she is an old soul, or that theywere painted long ago, Irons is very much a young woman of her time, benefitting from all of her generation’s technological advantages while increasing her visibility before an expanding audience.

Primarily self-taught, Irons began painting in 2015 after moving from Alaska to the Montana countryside. By studying past masters and participating in workshops with Jeremy Lipking and Joshua LaRock, she learned to create nuanced portraits and figures in a naturalistic style. The art of storytelling, however, she taught herself: several of her paintings speak of the history of her current home and the surrounding Great Plains. Slices of Americana come to life in her depictions of prairie and homestead living, highlighting our young country’s agrarian focus on the land and appreciation of nature.

In her illustrative storytelling, Irons often maintains a mystery that holds viewers’ interest and invites them to wonder. This is evident in Evening Hands, where a young woman is captured in the act of braiding her hair. She wears a peasant blouse that evokes simpler times, but the painting leaves us with few additional clues about her identity, driving our focus to the activity of her hands. “Evening Hands is an intimate painting about a woman braiding her hair and the grace of her hands during this ritual,” Irons explains. “Rituals are something I explore often, as they signify relatable practices that can be both universal and personal.”

Irons recently relocated to Dillon, Montana, where she rents a studio downtown, and she just opened her first solo exhibition at Bozeman’s Old Main Gallery. In January, she took a one-month drawing intensive at the Grand Central Atelier (New York City), her first official training to date.

As she works on new paintings for upcoming shows and on continuing her education, Irons is sure to celebrate many more firsts in the years ahead.

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