Irene was born and raised on the southern tip of Texas, spending much of her childhood on the banks of the Rio Grande River, where her father, a farmer, grew onions and cabbage. At 17, she moved to Brazil and lived as an exchange student in Rio de Janeiro. She went on to catch a ride on a cargo boat and travel up the Amazon river, eventually making her way back home through south and central America. She studied art in Mexico and Austin Texas, then moved to New York where she received an M.A. from NYU. Irene worked as a gardener/lecturer at the Cloisters and at the New York Botanical Garden, where she created drawings of neo tropical palms and the insects that pollinate them. She now lives off the grid in the high desert of central Oregon.