Nationally recognized ceramic artist Irina Okula was born in Wolfen, East Germany during World War II. Her father, along with other engineers and scientists, was brought with his family to West Germany where they lived on an army base until they immigrated to the United States in the late 1940s. Irina received a BA from Fontbonne College and a MFA in Ceramics from Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. She has also studied at the Boston Museum School, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and Penland School of Crafts.
Irina has exhibited widely along the East Coast, at the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair, the Fruitlands Museum Exhibition, the Smithsonian Craft Show, CraftBoston Spring & Holiday Shows, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, the Fuller Craft Museum Biennial Members Exhibition, and in other prestigious venues. At the Smithsonian Craft Show, she won the Excellence in Ceramics Award in 2015 – the highest honor given to a sculptural ceramics artist – and at the Fuller Craft Museum she won the Juror’s Choice Award in 2014.
Her work is currently in the Exeter Fine Crafts Gallery in Exeter, NH; Hoadley Gallery in Lenox, MA; League of NH Craftsmen Fine Craft Galleries in multiple locations in New Hampshire; Snyderman-Works Galleries in Philadelphia PA; Lexicon Gallery in Magnolia, MA; Freehand Gallery in CA. and The Walsingham Gallery in Newburyport, MA.
Irina is also a renowned art educator at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield, MA. Her students win multiple Globe Scholastic Art and Writing Awards each year. In 2015, her students won 25 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, including ten Golds, nine Silvers, and six Honorable Mentions, more awards than students at any other New England school. In addition, two of the winners went on to garner national medals – a Gold and Silver – and have their work displayed in Washington, DC. The Alliance for Young Artists and Writers recognized Irina as an outstanding educator in 2012, noting that her students’ work is routinely selected for multiple national honors.