Irina Portnyagina has a Master's in Architecture from Lvov Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine. While in the Ukraine, Irina worked as an architect on a massive restoration project of churches and synagogues that had suffered neglect and abuse through the years in the USSR. She also taught fine art, art history, design, drafting, and architecture at the Krushenyitska Special Musicians School in Lvov.
After immigrating to the US, Irina joined USA 829 as a Scenic Artist in 1998 and has since worked in theatre, film, and television. Irina has been a lead painter at Scenic Art Studios for amost 15 years; prior to that she worked with School Instructor Jane Snow at Hudson Scenic Studio as well as at other shops.
Primarily a drop painter, Irina is known for creating ingenious new scenic techniques and tools which have been adopted by others. Her ability to take a design and breathe life into it has also earned her the admiration of many Designers.
Irina is classically trained in painting, perspective, and drafting in the European tradition. This combination of classical training and forward thinking has come to define her both as a Scenic Artist and as a teacher at the school. She provides the students with a strong foundation and then challenges them to build upon it in their own way.