Jane Irish

Jane Irish working in the FWM print studio, 2020. Photo credit: Carlos Avendaño.

Jane Irish began her residency in September 2020, after being selected by FWM Curator Karen Patterson—working in partnership with The Clay Studio—to produce a yardage design in collaboration with FWM. Working primarily in painting and ceramics, Irish was invited to feature new work from her practice alongside the yardage, culminating with the presentation of Hard/Cover, a group exhibition featured in the museum’s eighth-floor gallery.

For this exhibition, Irish learned repeat-pattern techniques to produce Goya’s Dream, a 15-yard canopy of cotton sateen displayed above eight ceramic vessels and 100 Rococo-inspired tiles. The vessels take their shape from mid-eighteenth-century potpourri containing herbal spices. Here, they function as a motif to represent trade and, in the artist’s view, a shameful justification for imperialism and colonialism.

Irish first illustrated her vesse­ls as 2D models in a “pattern book”: a practice popularized in the nineteenth century, allowing architects to share new designs in a printed volume. Images placed on these vessels include defendants from United States v. The Amistad (1841), a groundbreaking Supreme Court case in furthering the abolitionist cause to end enslavement, as well as portraits of the first Western missionary in Vietnam. In her yardage, a cloud seen in the reflection of a rice paddy appears beside representations of US military intervention in Vietnam. These inclusions are representative of the artist’s ongoing interest in straddling the lines between justice, politics and beauty.



April 9, 2021-September 26, 2021

Artist Bio

American, born 1955, lives in Philadelphia, PA.

Jane Irish received her MFA in 1980 from Queens College, CUNY, and has exhibited at venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; The Delaware Contemporary, Wilmington, DE; Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, LA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and the Baltimore Museum of Art, MD. Irish has been the recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, a Painters and Sculptors Grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, a Painting Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and a Painting Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work is held in numerous public collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and LaSalle University Museum, Philadelphia, PA; the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Bryn Mawr College, PA; and the Women’s Hall of Fame, Seneca Falls, NY. She is represented by Locks Gallery in Philadelphia.