Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

An Eye for Art: Assistant professor has exhibit featuring 'Year One' of her daughter

Chloe Irla has a series titled “Year One” that illustrates data about her daughter, Felix’s, first year in life. Irla kept track of when Felix ate, bathed, slept and all other aspects of her first year of life.

Chloe Irla is a regional artist who teaches at McDaniel College. Irla is in her second year as an assistant professor of art.

Irla became interested in art as a child. She always loved art and had a very supportive elementary school art teacher.


“My teacher recognized something in me and encouraged me to pursue art,” she said.

She always liked painting and working with paper such as papIer mâché. Irla never liked working with clay, preferring to draw and paint.


When Irla attended South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia, she had another supportive teacher who recognized her ability and urged her to attend art school.

Irla was primarily and oil painter in high school. During her senior year, she attended an after-school art program. Students showed up and worked on their own projects. Their work was critiqued in their other art classes during school hours. The program gave her more time to work on her art..

Irla graduated from high school in 2003 and decided to attend Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. During their first foundation year, students study 2-D, 3-D and time-based art. Time-based art includes video, sound and computer produced art. While at Pratt, Irla was on track to be a painting major but decided to transfer to McDaniel for her junior year.

“I chose McDaniel because it was a small liberal arts college and because I really loved the campus. In addition, my parents are both McDaniel alums,” Irla said. “I had a great experience at McDaniel.”

When she started at McDaniel, Irla was interested in medical illustration. As a result, she had a double major with her course load was split between art classes and biology.

Her first semester of her senior year, Irla decided to pursue and MFA so that she could be a professor one day. Irla dropped her biology major so that she could graduate on time.

Irla completed a postbaccalaureate program at Maryland Institute College of Art. She was building a portfolio for graduate school. A portfolio is a body of an artist’s best work that can be used to apply to various outlets such as jobs, institutions or galleries.

Irla pursued an interdisciplinary course of study. She began to weld and do traditional fiber arts. Irla was able to incorporate those two media into her projects.


After she completed the post baccalaureate program, she decided to stay at MICA to get her master’s degree in Fine Arts.

After graduation, she was an admission recruiter for MICA and taught part time at McDaniel for a semester. Then, Irla taught at MICA for a year and then for Anne Arundel Community College. Then a job teaching art took her to Maine where she taught for one year at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Irla came back from Maine in 2013 and took a break from teaching. She got a job as the operations manage for Charm City Cakes.

“I learned a lot. It was a very [good] job because of the deadlines every week. We could have up to 30 different projects due that week,” she explained.

One of the most interested cakes was a 5-foot cruise ship. They also made a 4-foot-tall tree that had a clock in it. The image was from the cover of a book. Charm City Cakes also created a cake for the MBA that was in the shape of a basketball arena. The Department of the Navy ordered a cake shaped like an aircraft carrier with an oversized Santa wearing camo and holding an airplane. Irla was pleased to be able to deliver it to the Pentagon.

Working at Charm City Cakes gave Irla a lot of good experience.


“I learned a ton about time management when you are under a lot of stress,” Irla said. “I also learned a lot about work-life balance. It helped me in teaching because managing a business can be similar to managing a course. I became a better communicator because I talked to people on the phone or by email constantly.”

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She worked there for a year and a half.

After her stint at the bakery, Irla had a baby and took some time off. Then she took her current position at McDaniel. She teaches design and digital media classes for the art department.

She has been exhibiting regularly since graduate school.

Irla has a series titled “Year One” that illustrates data about her daughter, Felix’s, first year in life. Irla kept track of when Felix ate, bathed, slept and all other aspects of her first year of life.

“The art pieces look like graphs; made of rectilinear color-coded calendars,” Irla explained. The images are printed on Fabritac that is a vinyl fabric blend that has a reusable adhesive on the back. It is waterproof and durable. The images are currently being exhibited in a solo show at Rehoboth Beach.


“I love making things in general. I love that there is no right or wrong in art,” Irla said. “I love seeing all types of art. I think art connects people to their community and it can serve as a call to action. It can raise awareness about issues. There is no one level of art that exists.”

Irla can be contacted at