Bethanie Irons is an artist, educator, and curator. She earned her BFA in painting from the University of South Dakota and her MFA in painting from the University of Missouri. She is currently a PhD student in Art Education at the University of Missouri, with an emphasis in college teaching and teaching with technology. Bethanie has shown her work internationally, including exhibitions in Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia, and has been featured in numerous print publications including New American Paintings and Friend of the Artist. Since 2015, she has curated the online-only gallery PLEAT, featuring artists from around the world.
Creating an environment of order is an important element of the work. Stability comes in the form of predictable colors, stripes, and silhouettes and is set against the backdrop of familiar domesticity and privilege. The control that material goods often have is analyzed in the building of objects with wood and canvas or the construction of digital compositions. Comfort is found in the process, working inch by inch or pixel by pixel, cultivating the sensation of control. Aside from the more obvious themes of the predictable and domestic, to fully understand the work requires an investment in concept, history, and theory. Stripes are embedded, in one form or another, because they are established in classification and deception both visually and historically. They follow a very specific color scheme used in the opponent-process theory of vision. Color perception is an attempt to make sense of our environment more objectively, but this theory describes how and why our judgement of color is an experiential construction. What looks to be only decorative and frivolous is deeply rooted in the distorted nature of how visual environments, and ultimately social structures, are navigated. By participating in a society that elevates the material to a divine status, elements of control and of illusion become one and the same. Social norms, hierarchies, and human need are reflected and refracted in the work, investigating what it means to contribute to and partake in today’s culture.