ABOUT
BARBARA

I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up; a teacher possibly, a musician since I had some gifts in that direction; maybe a librarian, since I loved to read, except that our local grouchy librarian was a discouraging role model. I didn't think too much about art, although I distinctly remember reading a Life Magazine article on Jackson Pollack when I was about ten. Strong encouragement from home put me into Home Economics - a safe choice for a minister's daughter in the ‘50s. I wasn't a sterling student, neither prone to following directions nor knotting all my sewing threads.

One of my undergraduate requirements was 2-D Design where I discovered that I had been using basic design concepts for years and I that I really enjoyed mixing paint. Much of what I knew about music seemed to resonate with the visual exercises. The class was located next to the small college gallery where I experienced a show of Abstract Expressionists as well as an extraordinary collaboration between John Cage and Merce Cunningham. Somehow art seeped into my soul during that time, mixed in with the dreaded home management house ("housework is love made visible") and stealing time for music. A lot more life happened before I chose to pursue fine art, and textiles in particular.  I received my MFA in Mixed Media around the time I turned 40, honored as a University Scholar at Northern Illinois University. 

For years I taught workshops for adults and participated in residencies all over the world. I have a personal goal to help the field of textiles to be recognized as a major part of the art world. Acting on this goal has been generously repaid, opening doors and providing opportunities and friendships with colleagues in many parts of the world.

I write about my field, and have learned much from the artists who have been my subjects in both magazine articles as well as in my book, Celebrating the Stitch: Contemporary Embroidery of North America (Taunton Press 1991).

Looking back on a life of working with art and artists, I know that I could never have planned such a dynamic experience. I live and work now in an old loft building in downtown Durham, North Carolina, and the adventures haven’t stopped yet.

INSTALLATIONS

Lay Inlet.png

Lay Inlet

50" x 89"

Installed in the permanent collection at the Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC