Artist's Statement

My work has evolved out of the Bay Area Figurative tradition, and I am always skirting the territory between figuration and abstraction. I love to paint on a large scale, and work in an expressionistic manner using the mediums of both oil and acrylic paint. A more recent development is my interest in printmaking, I've become somewhat obsessed with monotype and regularly switch back and forth between painting and printmaking.

My figurative work often has a narrative component, and relates directly to my experience of life. I enjoy creating situations to explore gesture, expression, color, and line, and find myself becoming completely immersed in the stories and environments that I create. Feminist issues are often addressed, often with an emphasis on our obsession with body image, and I find myself continually drawn to the subject of interpersonal relationships and the absurdity of the human condition.

In 2016 and 2017 I held artist residencies, the first in Amherst, Virginia, at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, the second at VCCA's branch in Auvillar, France. In both instances I was inspired by poetry, in Virginia I reflected on the moody and dark works of Edgar Allan Poe, while in Auvillar I was reading Charles Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal and other works, and have returned to imagery inspired by that experience in my current paintings.

Over the past year and a half I have also been interested in doing monotypes, often using leaves as a kind of stencil, enjoying the intricate and delicate patterns which they impart to the print. Wanting to branch out a bit—no pun intended—I started using some leaves as one character in a cast including very humble materials like paper, plastic, and string...basically studio detritus. From these simple elements a variety of colorful and dramatic compositions have resulted, each with it's distinct and nuanced personality, but all relating to the unifying theme of a broken circle.

The circle is a timeless symbol, often signifying unity or the oneness of the universe. We may think of the circle of life, or a circle of trust. Breaking this smooth and full shape immediately signifies a disruption of energy. Other elements, such as circles and loops of fiber, may also have loaded associations, ranging from the biological, political, or religious, to tangled lives or frayed nerves, or merely convey the innocence of textile crafts. Like much art, the experience lies largely in the eye of the beholder.

Barbara Morris

June 2019