Irene Peña began her academic formation in art in 1987, at the University of Costa Rica Fine Arts School, where she studied painting and graphic design for 2 years, before moving to the United States to study photography at Santa Monica College.
After completing her studies in 1993, she returned to Costa Rica, working in advertising photography for four years. She felt that she had still more to learn from the fashion mecca of Los Angeles, and in 1998 moved back to California to continue developing her fashion portfolio.
During her time there, Peña had the opportunity to photograph the designs of some of Los Angeles’ top stylists, including recognized figures like Nikolaki and Louis Verdad, creating vanguard images of marked sensuality.
She was also invited to collaborate on various projects with the Coalition of Los Angeles Designers (C.L.A.D.) and Gen Art L.A.
When asked about her chosen field of fashion photography, she replies that “I really love it, even if it involves so much pre-production. This type of photography distinguishes itself from others in the huge production that it requires…it’s much more elaborate, and the concept behind the image must be created months or even years in advance.”
She returned to Costa Rica in 2002, where she has been working as a photographer in collaboration with Costa Rican fashion designers and artists, who she says are “very up to date with the global fashion industry and have excellent creations of their own.” She emphasizes that the level of design talent in Costa Rica is extremely high.
Her work has been exhibited both individually and in group exhibits around the world, including the University of Costa Rica (San José, CR), Veritas University (San José, CR), Geras Tousignant Gallery (San Francisco, USA), the Instituto de Mexico (San José, CR), the III Women in Textile Art International Biennial” (Valencia, Venezuela), Klaus Steinmetz Arte Contemporáneo Gallery (San José, Costa Rica) Galería Sophia Wanamaker (San José, Costa Rica), the Centro Cultural Español, (San José, Costa Rica), Soho Photo Gallery (New York City, USA), Museo de Arte Costarricense (San José, Costa Rica), and Santa Monica College (Santa Monica, USA).
It has been said of her work that “Irene plays with the ephemeral, the mysterious, the ugly and the beautiful…that personalities, because of the effects of the light and color in her images, dance the dance of life: half tragedy and half glamour, in and of itself the very definition of the concept of style.”