Arts and Culture

Let’s talk about art: Artist talk at Wheaton

Barbara “Babs” Owen is the Rhode Island-based artist who recently starred on a solo exhibition at the Beard and Weil Galleries on campus. On Thursday September 6th, previous to the inauguration, however, she delivered a talk focused on her career as well as the inspiration behind her current work.

Smille + Metaphor: Red Necklace Exhibition. Photo by Caroline Chaffiotte.

Owen is a contemporary artist who focuses on painting and sculpture through the use of mixed media. She attended Bennington College, where she majored in poetry and sculpture and began experimenting with media such as wood, metal, and clay. During the four years following graduation, she worked for the sculptor Brower Hatcher in New York. Owen talked about this time in her life as very important for her career, yet not particularly creative for herself.

Subsequently, she developed what she called “her first breakthrough”: The Blooms (2000 – 2006) and Aerial Landscapes (2000 – 2012) series, which 

Smille + Metaphor: Red Necklace Exhibition. Photo by Caroline Chaffiotte.

focus on organic forms and abstraction. Both series were her first professional approaches to painting, which continue to influence her current works.

Around 2004, when she got married and moved to Rhode Island, Owens began experimenting with drawings as purer forms of the Blooms and what she refers to as “Bloom Vocabulary” – the use of blooms as words. “I’m still using the language of the Blooms”, Owens claims. This approach to painting and, later, drawings, helped her begin to think about her past as a sculptor and the possible use drawings as sculpture.

Owens developed a fascination for lines and decided to explore them through installations. “I’m pulling lines of drawing and putting them into space” she states. Her installations are the result of drawing lines and paper turned into sculptural works. Do not hesitate in visiting the gallery and examining her work.