Irene Clouthier Carillo
Irene Clouthier Carillo
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Irene Clouthier Carillo (born 1974) is a multi-disciplinary artist born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico who lives and works in the Washington DC metro area. Clouthier’s work explores childhood nostalgia and the idealization of early memories and experiences. She often uses images, objects and materials from childhood games and toys. Much of Clouthier’s work uses plastic as a medium or a visual. As a common material for toys, plastic conjures memories of childhood while also reflecting the artificiality found in daily life. Clouthier often discusses the visual power of light shining through the plastic to create an ephemeral artifice.
Education and Early Career
Raised in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico; Irene left home in her teens to study at the Monterey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM).Though her family was already established in politics and multiple businesses (agriculture, real estate, plastics), Clouthier began to pursue her interests in art. One of Clouthier’s first formalized encounters with art was as a volunteer in 1995 at the newly opened Sinaloa Museum of Art (MASIN). This experience led her to a position at Drexel Galeria in Monterrey Mexico where she began meeting established Mexican artists like Perla Krauze, Gerardo Azcúnaga and Javier Orozco while learning more about the business side of art. 
Following her time in Monterey, Clouthier began a collegiate education that spanned three countries. Fluent in Spanish, French and English she was able to pursue international studies in both traditional visual and exploratory graphic arts through drawings, sculptures, and digitally manipulated photography. She completed preparatory classes in France and her undergraduate work in Mexico at UDEM (Monterrey University) where she studied under artist Jorge Elizondo and Aldo Chaparro. Around this time, Clouthier shared a studio with Chaparo. Three and a half years after completing her undergraduate degree, she moved to the United States where she pursued graduate studies and began showing professionally with the Marina Kessler Gallery and later with the Lowenstein Gallery. 
Clouthier’s first solo show was at the Antonio Lopez Saenz Gallery, Culiacan (1998) in Mexico followed by her first U.S. solo show at the Mackey Gallery (Formerly 527) in Houston, TX (2000). She continued her international presence with solo shows at Galeria Sicart (2005) in Barcelona, and Festival Fiesta de Fuego in Santiago, Cuba (2008).
During her career, she has participated in multiple art fairs such as Scope New York and Miami, Pulse Miami, Art Paris, Art Salamanca in Spain. She exhibited in Museums around the globe such as the Anchorage Museum of History and Arts, and the Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, the Chopo Sinaloa Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Mexico City. Similarly, she has been selected for numerous biennials to include the IX and X Northwest Biennial of Fine Arts, IX FEMSA Biennial, and the Valencia Biennial.
Irene Clouthier was born in Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico to Manuel Clouthier del Rincón and Leticia Carrillo Cázarez. She was the youngest of eleven children (6 girls and 5 boys). She and her twin brother, Ricardo, were the second set of fraternal twins born to her large family.
In 1987, Clouthier’s father, Manuel (often referred to as Maquio), ran for the presidency of Mexico. This experience put Clouthier into the public eye since she and her siblings periodically toured Mexico with Maquio during his campaign. In the year following the election, Clouthier suffered the loss of her father in a tragic car accident. This loss was which was rumored to be a purposeful act in response to his political activism and movement towards electoral reform.
By the time Clouthier was fourteen, she had publicly experienced the death of her young brother, Cid Estaban, and her father, Maquio. These experiences informed Clouthier’s work where she explores ideas of nostalgia, memory and play. Her work often incorporates the colors, materials, and aesthetic of her early 80’s experiences and Mexican heritage. When asked about her art Clouthier frequently mentions the cultural importance of kitsch in the Mexican aesthetic.
Political Activism and Humanitarianism
Irene continued her political activism starting with her performance work as part of the Floating Lab Collective led by Chilean artist Edgar Endress in 2007. The show TransitioMX was a simultaneous performance at the White House in the US and the Zocalo Plaza in Mexico City run over a live feed Laboratorio de Arte Alameda Museum. The show incorporated 3-minute protests with participants from the street and tackled the many issues facing the US and Mexican governments at the time.
Similarly, Clouthier created an immersive day of the dead installation in 2018 at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington DC. The show, titled They Silenced us was dedicated to the femicide victims in Mexico using elements found in traditional Day of the Dead altars (ofrenda) to address the growing femicide problem in her native Mexico and throughout Latin America.
Clouthier has a long running pursuit of social injustices personally as well as professionally. Though she achieved artistic success in the U.S. without the benefit of her surname’s political and social influence, she also experienced some of the challenges facing immigrants in the U.S. These experiences led her to volunteer work supporting the Latino community in the Washington DC metro area. She continued the non-violent protests she observed as a child and leveraged these experiences to action. She was one of the founding members of Latinas for Latinas and currently functions as the board chair for non-profit Nueva Vida.
Since Clouthier explores multiple media for her work, she often produces her works in series. Some of her most popular series include:
• Regio Landscape (an exploration of urban landscape in the northern city of Monterrey in Mexico)
• Playmobil® Series
• Keys Series
Awards and Distinctions
2019 Valencia Biennial, Honorary Mention, October Center for Contemporary Culture (OCCC), Valencia, Spain
2014 FEMSA Biennial selection. Monterrey Center for the Arts
2006 X Northwest Biennial of Fine Arts, selection. Sinaloa Museum of Art, Cecult. Mexico
2004 9th Northwest Biennial of Fine Arts, selection. Sinaloa Museum of Art, Cecult. Mexico
2003 Fellow recipient, Inter-American Development Bank, Our Voices, Our Images, Washington DC
2000 Selection of the XIX Sinaloa Fine Arts Salon Biennial
1998 3rd Prize winner, Arte A.C. Centro Cultural. Original works on paper, Monterrey, Mexico
1997 2nd Prize winner, First Visual Arts Student Contest, French Alliance, Monterrey, Mexico
- Edgardo Bermejo “Irene Clouthier: News 22”, Diáspora Cultural, 24 January 2020
- Elsabe Johnson Dixon “Underlying Borders at the Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington DC” "], East City Art, 21 May 2019
- Mark Jenkins “In the Galleries Normal Rockwell Would Have Recognized These Socialist Images”", Washington Post, 30 July 2016
- John Anderson “The Looking Glass: Artist Immigrants of Washington at the Katzen Arts Center”, Washington City Paper, 13 July 2016
- Antonio Espinoza “Lights and Shadow of A Biennial", El Universal, 23 August 2014
- Cedar Pasori “Art Basel Miami 2012 Highlights”, Complex, 7 Dec 2012
- “Eight Latin American artists explored the spectator´s experience at Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City", Art Aldia, May 2002
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