is a photographer, educator, biologist, teaching artist, professor, a cultural leader for Mexican-Americans on Staten Island, and the Founder, Artistic and Program Director of the annual Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead)
festival on Staten Island, established in 1992. Irma holds a Ph.D. in Ecological Entomology from Oxford University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Autonomous University of Mexico City (UNAM). She received a full scholarship to pursue her doctorate degree at Oxford University in England from UNAM.
Irma’s photographs are part of her ongoing social-documentary series, “Simple Moments of an Emerging Presence
”, of Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants in New York, focusing especially on Staten Island, its most diversifying borough. The selected photographs show simple moments in everyday life, cultural traditions and occasions important to Mexican people. The men, women and children portrayed share a common heritage and a homeland separated from their land of origin.
Irma received a prestigious Proclamation from the City of New York “Staten Island Women Who Preserve History
” for her work. She was awarded The Gabriela Mistral, Julia de Burgos, Frida Kahlo Award
as a photographer and cultural leader who preserves and promotes Mexican values and cultural heritage for younger generations of Mexican-Americans in New York.
Irma was featured on The New York Times Lens Blog, 6/15/2016, “Mexicans in New York:Traditions and Turning points,”
was awarded the City Artists Corporations Grant Program
in 2021, and selections from her photo documentary series were included in the exhibit, Migration Stories.
She exhibited at New York City’s Photoville Festival
on its 10th anniversary, and on the Photoville panel, Youth Artist Exchange—Looking Outward on 2021.
Irma has exhibited several solo shows, including Mexico/Staten Island: Photographs of a Community,
curated by Edward J. Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor of the History of Art, New York University, at the Mexican Consulate in New York in 2016-2017; and at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in 2017.
Irma was recipient of the 12th International Julia Annual Margaret Cameron Award in Barcelona,
a finalist in the 5th
Award in 2011; First and Second Alice Austen Museum Triennial 2016 and 2019; in 2011 awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Mentoring Program for Immigrant Artists, and was exhibited in a juried show in Berlin in 2016. Irma’s photography was included in the Museum of the City of New York exhibit on Hurricane Sandy, Rising Waters.
She has exhibited in many museums, contemporary galleries and in more than 100 group shows. Irma was the recipient of many Staten Island Arts Council pre-pandemic grants each year from 2000-2019, for her photography, her annual Día de Muertos
(Day of the Dead) festival, as a teaching artist and folk artist in the community. She has been an adjunct professor in Mexico, at Wagner College and teacher assistant at the International Center of Photography in a variety of classes. She has presented Mexican traditions at many museums, senior centers, public libraries and schools. Published credits include the New York Times
, Staten Island Advance
, La Jornada
, El Diario/La Prensa, El Diario de México Edición USA
and Staten Island Arts. Television - Staten Island Community Television and Channel Thirteen (WNET, New York), appearance in Molly O'Neill's New York: A taste of the City.