Barbara Schneider is an award winning artist from Woodstock, Il. with a studio at the The Starline Gallery in Harvard, IL. Her work has been exhibited in five Quilt Nationals (and she just got word that her work has been accepted for a 6th –2015). From November 1-30, she will have 9 pieces in one room as part of The World of Threads exhibit in Ontario, Canada. SAQA interviewer Clairan Ferrono has had the pleasure of speaking to Barbara over the past couple of weeks.
SAQA: First, let me congratulate you, Barbara, on getting into Quilt National a 6th(!) time, and on all your recent sucesses. So, have you always been an artist?
BS: Thanks. Yes, I loved art from the time I was a child – took art through high school, got a BS in visual Design form the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology and a MA in Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University. I worked as a book and packaging designer for many years,: I made handmade paper and artist books before getting into textiles in the late 1990s. I began quilting in 1996 and discovered the pleasure of working with cloth, paint, dye, and thread.
SAQA: How would you describe your art?
BS: My on-going interest in the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, finding beauty in things that are imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, is at the core of all of my art work. I like to capture the essence of images made of light and movement, images that are infinitely variable. What does the eye see? What does the camera see? What does the mind see? It’s ephemeral –trying to capture a moment.
My Reflections series explores the concept of reflection and how to capture the images that are not physically there, images made of light and movement, images that change.
My Leaves series is an exploration and interpretation of natural images by enlarging and reshaping them. I collect leaves, pods, flowers, grasses and look closely at their structure and shape. In particular, I like to collect these natural objects at the end of summer when they have begun to wither and fragment. Looking at them closely and then enlarging them allows me to see them as sculptural objects. I look at the play of light upon surfaces, and shaping the pieces introduces a new element – light and shadow interacting with the undulating surfaces.
The Line Dance: Tree Ring Patterns series is an extension of this exploration of natural objects. Looking at the patterns in the tree rings and then the additional patterns created by overlapping and fragmenting the imagery allows me to see things in new ways.
Reflection continues to be my theme. It is what I do throughout my work process as well as what I hope viewers do as they look at the completed work. Each piece moves me forward to increased complexity of image and technique. By the time I finish one piece I’m already thinking about the next.
SAQA: So where do you imagine going from here?
BS: I keep exploring new techniques and processes that help me move the series forward. Each new piece gives me an opportunity to go deeper into the concept or to try to achieve a new level of seeing. Jane Dunnewold’s Masters Class series was a big commitment and a big influence, moving me forward in clarifying my voice.
In my newer pieces I am using more of my photography, digitally manipulating it and then printing itcommercially. Then I go back in and continue to add layers, stitching, shaping. New directions? The Line Dance: Tree Ring Patterns is morphing. What were flat panel pieces are now individual rings stitched and shaped dimensionally. Grouping the tree rings creates light and shadow. My favorite thing– light and shadows.