"Nature has somehow always been where I feel most at home. It’s no wonder my art is a mirror of my life and memories. Nature and the journey of Life collide as my inspiration and muse. These 3 pieces reflect the beauty hidden in the dry river beds of the Southwest. My intention was to incorporate multi-media with sustainable materials: jute, water-based paint, soil erosion netting, rocks from the Phoenix scape and non-toxic mediums. From Sedona to Santa Fe to Phoenix, I have loved the Desert. Minimalism, hidden mysteries of history and a palette straight from the landscape. Touched by the rich earth and neutral vastness I was inspired to find a matte paint in colors from the desert and my many hiking memories along these riverbeds. Georgia O’Keefe was an early influence in my art journey. Her biographies and art influenced my way of seeing the desert. Ms. O’Keefe was a self-proclaimed river bed wanderer. My new home is now Phoenix where it is calm with rugged beauty all around. Textile, fabric and other media were used to reflect the beauty and visualize my abstract representation. As a child living in NE Maine (yes, very cold), I spent hours sitting among large granite boulders while surrounded by pastures full of free-roaming dairy cows. Pure bliss. My siblings and I were always looking for treasures in small creeks. The dry river beds of Arizona remind of that fun and the excitement of discovery. A beautiful stone, arrowheads, or other treasures. This Series is a tribute to my new home, Arizona and to childhood adventures found once again."
- Barbara Barnett
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Mixed media on stretched canvas
60" x 72"
“Painting gives meaning to my existence.”
US Army Veteran, Barbara Barnett paints her way through life’s journey. Unbound to a defining style, she resolves to explore abstract compositions in her rhythmic collection. Whether through series such as “My Town” or “Paths,” a distinct green or circle motif weaves across the series, binding them together. She says her art represents the “acceptance of the journey and the sharp turns in the river of life. We all have our own journeys. It’s not necessarily reflective of my own, but the underlying things that are in our heads and minds.” Though there are autobiographical elements- Untitled 6 (sister series) was inspired by conversations with her sister, and the My Town series is her hometown, her pieces ask us to reflect on our position in the present while acknowledging the moment is part of a whole.
Originally, art provided Barbara with a refuge from the demands of PTSD/MST after serving in the Medical Corp in Germany during the Vietnam War. This period of her life is represented by the Women Warriors series created in 2010. “Women warriors are a part of my healing but my art has grown from cathartic pain release to my journey through art.” These pieces have lived in many exhibits across the country (The Endowment for Veteran Arts Campaign, Veteran Arts Institute, Leedy-Voulkos Gallery in Kansas City among other showings.) Over time, Barbara has departed from these figural portraits to entertain other inspirations and curiosities.
Her focus on “abstract architectural” art began from dreams of becoming an architect. She instead earned her PhD in Psychology after her dispatch from the Army, but her draw to architecture always guided her creativity. When visiting museums, she says she appreciates the architecture and design of the museum just as much, if not more than the art itself. “I’m drawn to it because it’s planned and engineered but beyond that, the great architects of our days have moved us all in new directions.” She considers architecture a secondary passion, but together - she molds architecture with art. In her compositions, she takes a spatial approach considering where things should be positioned and left out, the same way one would explore physical space. The interaction of space felt in the physical world is rendered in her two-dimensional realm of paintings.
Barbara relocated to Phoenix, AZ in 2023 where she continues experiments in her studio. She continues to educate herself and explore the capabilities of new mediums and textures. Rendering geometry in abstracted views, playing with the ripples of circles, and refining her color palate are little moments of her artistic journey that continue to evolve through life’s winding pathways.
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