Chloe Irla

Craft, Design / Digital, Fiber, Painting, Visual / Media

I’m a multidisciplinary designer whose work is rooted in observation: observation of the seasons, of nature, of motherhood, of time.

About the Artist

Chloe Irla grew up outside of Richmond, VA but moved around a lot as a teenager. She attended McDaniel College before receiving an MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has exhibited nationally and in Sofia, Bulgaria, and Vancouver, Canada. Chloe has been a resident artist at the Vermont Studio Center and the Wassaic Project. As an educator, she has taught studio art courses at MICA and the University of Maine at Farmington and is currently an Associate Professor of Art with tenure at McDaniel College. Chloe lives in Westminster, MD with her husband, fellow artist Jason Irla, and her young daughter, Felix. She loves reading and listening to podcasts, raising monarch butterflies, gardening, and cycling.

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Artist's Statement

Home Work is about my maternal exhaustion during the pandemic. But parental exhaustion was around before the pandemic thanks in part to the total market failure that is affordable child care and the expectation of women and mothers to “do it all” in both their home and work life. The early days of the pandemic, when everything shut down, suddenly made parents realize how important teachers are to caring for their children. But that appreciation for parents hasn’t been reciprocated, as parents such as myself were forced to juggle full-time work with full-time caregiving, all the while stressing about protecting our kids from a novel, deadly virus. I was fortunate to have the option of teaching from home and am fortunate to have a partner, unlike many others who dropped out of the workforce to care for their children or who don’t have a partner to help them. In fall 2020, I wanted to create work that documented the invisible, overwhelming experience of simultaneous parenting and working. I began collecting newspaper headlines that related to my own experience. The work in this application includes some of those headlines. For the first time in my life, I was so exhausted of using a computer that I returned to knitting as a medium that could occupy my hands. While creating this work, I imagined—although this isn’t so much of a stretch—a mother largely confined to her home, creating works of protest out of objects and materials around the house. Then, she begins wearing these messages on her body. She translates her lived experiences into clothing—physical manifestations of the invisible weight and stress of her experience. She wears these works both inside and outside of the home as a call to action for change, help, flexibility, anything to make her feel seen. Two years later, this mother has blossomed. She’s no longer a full-time simultaneous caregiver, first-grade teacher, and college professor. She begins to have the bandwidth to observe the beautiful ecosystem of her garden. Gardening is its own form of mothering; it takes intense observation and problem-solving to be a successful gardener. Raising monarch caterpillars into butterflies, observing the family of Canada Geese who live in the pond down the street, protecting the milkweed from invasive aphids–these tasks drive my practice now. The Home & Garden collection was made in response to my desire to become fully immersed in the hyper-local space of my garden. News from the garden–such as when the family of house wrens who moved into the bluebird houses–becomes the most important source of information for my days. I now strive to care for myself in the tender way that I care for my garden.

Featured Work