Barbara Marks received an MFA in painting from Brooklyn College (CUNY), and a BFA in painting from Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts (CT). She has enjoyed residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Fowler Dune Shack (Cape Cod), MIRA (Martignano, Italy), and Jentel Foundation (Wyoming). She has twice been a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome. Most recently her work has been shown at the DaSilva Gallery, Silvermine Arts Center, Whitney Center, and The Chase Family Gallery (CT); The Painting Center and First Street Gallery (NYC); Drawing Rooms (NJ); and Artist-Run at Satellite (Miami). Her paintings and prints are in numerous private collections. She is an artist member at The Painting Center, NYC, NY, and a Guild Artist at Silvermine Arts Center, New Canaan, CT. Her work on paper is represented in the flatfile at Artspace New Haven. Barbara is a Trustee of the Vermont Studio Center and a former board member of Artspace New Haven. Previously, she was the principal of a graphic design studio serving the book publishing industry. Barbara lives and works in Connecticut; she divides her “free” time between Connecticut and NYC.
I’m a B-52 (b. 1952). I spent my childhood in Westport, Connecticut, my dad’s hometown. My mom was from Iowa. Both of my parents were makers of things, which is where my love of working with my hands must have come from. I attended Pitzer College, Claremont, CA, and the New School for Social Research, New York, NY, working toward a degree in anthropology until I fell into a graphic design job in Soho. From there I went on to jobs in magazine design and book design. In 1978, I established my own design studio specializing in publication design for the book publishing industry.
I landed happily in graphic design, without a background in fine arts, but with a nagging desire to try my hand at drawing and painting. In 2000, I took the plunge and enrolled in a summer painting “intensive” at Wesleyan University. I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. It was intense and challenging—and I wanted more. I decided to take classes at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. Two classes in the fall led to two more in the spring and, in 2001, I left book design behind to become a full-time matriculating student at Lyme, earning a BFA in painting in 2005, and then an MFA in painting from Brooklyn College (CUNY) in 2008. Since then, I have focused my efforts on strengthening my studio practice, getting traction and exposure for my work, and deepening my involvement in the greater arts community.
My colorful paintings are rooted in direct observation and memory. Fusing reality and invention, they suggest ordinary objects, eccentric landscapes, and quirky interior spaces; they elicit narrative. In my work, I oscillate between geometric and representational abstraction—driven by my interest in economy of expression, and my belief in the role that color can play in the situation of a particular painting. My primary medium is color—everything else falls into place to support that. I am interested in color for its own sake—color as form; color as content. Beauty and craft are important to me. My work evades being neatly pigeonholed into a genre or a ‘style.’ I paint what interests me in whatever way I feel like painting it. I favor a small, square format, and I work in series. I am currently at work on “Recollection,” a series of small-scale, square, paintings-on-panel. My long-term plan is to grow the series into a large-scale project by making many small-scale paintings that, when installed as a group, will take on a monumental scale.