Sarah Signature

Sarah Hempel Irani,


Sarah Hempel Irani is a figurative sculptor with over two decades of experience, specializing in the creation of expressive figures in clay, bronze, and stone. Originally hailing from Michigan, Sarah's artistic journey led her to Maryland, where she embarked on an apprenticeship with the former artist-in-residence at the Washington National Cathedral.

Sarah recently returned from a month-long artist residency at Château d’Orquevaux in the Grand Est region of France. There, she was able to fully focus on art-making without distraction. She explored different materials and responded artistically to this new environment. She photographed her small sculptures in the village on on the grounds of the Château to create an illusion of monumentality. The finished work was a combination of preparatory drawings, small sculptures, and printed photographs.

In 2021, Sarah installed a 7’6” bronze monument to fashion icon Claire McCardell in Carroll Creek Linear Park, Frederick, Maryland. Previously, commissioned by Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Potomac, Maryland, she created two large Carrara marble sculptures. Sarah sculpted clay models in her studio, sent plaster casts to Italy for stone carving per Renaissance tradition, and installed the two-ton sculptures in the church's sanctuary.

Sarah earned an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Hood College Graduate School. She has been a visiting artist and speaker at Ave Maria University, Grove City College, Slippery Rock University, Covenant College, the Rotary “Pathways to Peace” Conference, as well as numerous religious and civic organizations. In addition, she has been guest on the United Lutheran Seminary Explores, Makers & Mystics, and Living from the Soul podcasts. Sarah’s work has been featured in Women’s Wear Daily, Threads, Baltimore Magazine, and several local news stations and magazines. Her sculptures have been celebrated for their expressive and emotive qualities, capturing the essence of the human spirit. 

Outside of her artistic pursuits, Sarah enjoys a fulfilling life with her husband, daughter, and their border collie, Tom Sawyer, near Washington, D.C. When she’s not in the studio, Sarah can be found tending her garden, day dreaming about Paris, whipping up a fabulous feast, or listening to opera.



Board Member Member, ACLS - Association for Consultants for Liturgical Space

Master of Arts in Humanities with a concentration in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Hood College Graduate School, Frederick, Maryland

Thesis: “Piero Della Francesca's Misericordia Polyptych: Artist, Patron, and Community” Advisor: Dr. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell

Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art with a minor in Classical Studies from Hillsdale College, Hillsdale Michigan

Studied sculpture under master sculptor, Anthony Frudakis 

Apprentice to master sculptor, Jay Hall Carpenter




Play Video

"Building for the Future: The Design of Multi-generational Worship Spaces,”

Sarah was a panelist with ACLS liturgical consultant Gilbert Sunghera, SJ, and architect Paul Barribeau and Dr. Michael Crosbie, PhD, FAIA, in a webinar for the Association of Consultants for Liturgical Space. The panel sought to discuss questions about the next generations. What moves a Millennial? How do we design and adorn worship spaces that speak to younger generations? What are younger people looking for in a worship space? In other words, what can we as artists, architects, and liturgical consultants do to attract young people and help the church grow in the 21st century?

“Women in Sculpture and Women in Sculptures"

Sculptor, Sarah Hempel Irani, shares the story of her journey as a woman in sculpture, from arriving in the nation’s capital as a young artist asking, “Where are all the women sculptors?” and “Where are all the sculptures of real, historical women?” to her work on the Frederick Art Club’s Claire McCardell Project.

“From Dream to Stone”

Sculptor, Sarah Hempel Irani, outlines the many steps that it takes to realize a monumental marble sculpture.

“Peace through Artistic Expression: Shaping a public imagination towards peace through public monuments.”

Sculptor, Sarah Hempel Irani, asks “Can we transform the public imagination by changing our collective visual vocabulary from one of war to one of peace? “ In this talk, Sarah walks us through the vocabulary of public monuments as instruments of conquest and war and how we can shift our consciousness towards peace.


IN THE Press

Learn more about Sarah and Hempel Studios by reviewing or listening to these resources, podcasts, and interviews below.


    December 2022

    Art As Narrative: Our December issue focuses on design + art projects delivering dynamic, inspirational storytelling that transforms spaces and sends powerful messages.

    Read More

    September 17, 2022

    In 1938, Maryland’s Claire McCardell started changing women’s fashion

    Read More

    May 19, 2021

    Claire McCardell statue progress report

    Read More
  • THREADS Magazine

    May 6, 2021

    Claire McCardell, Iconic Designer, to be Memorialized in Bronze

    Read More

    April 26, 2021

    Sarah Hempel Irani — Sculpting Public Ideals

    Listen Here

    April 2021

    Claire McCardell Statue Will Honor Groundbreaking Frederick-Born Designer

    Read More

    March 31, 2021

    American Sportswear Pioneer Claire McCardell to Be Celebrated in Children’s Book, Coloring Book, and Bronze Statue

    Read More
  • MAKERS & MYSTICS Podcast

    November 2020

    S8 E09: Armature and Astonishment with Sarah Hempel Irani

    Listen Here
  • The Frederick News Post

    March 6, 2020

    Delaplaine Foundation awards grant to Claire McCardell Project

    Read More

    February 12, 2020

    Art Club Breaking ‘Bronze Ceiling’ With Sculpture of Claire McCardell 

    Read More
  • WDMV Local TV Station

    November 22, 2019

    Seven-foot-tall statue to stand in tribute to native fashion designer

  • Women's Wear Daily (

    September 19, 2019

    Claire McCardell Statue, Tribute Planned in Her Hometown: A nationwide effort is under way to create more art and public space sculptures of women and created by women.

    Read More
  • The Frederick News Post

    August 7, 2019

    Planned statue of renowned Frederick designer could be one of the city’s first female public sculptures 

    Read More
  • SEMINARY RIDGE REVIEW (United Lutheran Literary Journal)

    Spring 2017

    Seminary Ridge Review is a print journal for alumni/ae, students and faculty of United Lutheran Seminary currently published twice yearly.

    Read More

    August 1, 2016

    Where Michelangelo Stood: Vocation, Incarnation and New Work in an Old Form

    Listen Here
  • TRIB LIVE (Western Pennsylvania Regional Newspaper)

    November 23, 2010

    The Third Nationwide Juried Catholic Arts Exhibition at St. Vincent College: Catholic competition creates eclectic exhibit

    Read More
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