Barbara Downs

I work in multiple mediums with little allegiance to specific subject matter, though my bodies of work are conceptually and aesthetically connected. While disassembling and reorganizing the visual information and materials at hand, I investigate themes of containment, confinement, and the protective or aversive shielding of precious internal information.

A chair is reconfigured and articulated to slump forward on itself like an inwardly-curled figure in a painting. An encaustic surface is subject to interrogation, much like a painting that retains the evidence of relentless reworking. Active line in all mediums asserts the fundamental importance of drawing. Working in one medium feeds the progression of ideas in another.

My work involves real and vigorous physical action: scraping, erasing, stitching, nailing, welding. I often paint with large rollers for a broad mark, and then scrub and mar the surface. This physicality brings out an “object-ness” in each piece.

I get a sense that this object, this painting or sculpture or drawing, is both familiar to me and unknowable at the same time. It excites the periphery of my consciousness and oscillates in that place where logic, emotion and instinct collide. This purposeful ambiguity invites the viewer to actively complete the piece by finding personal meaning in it.


For more information about Barbara Downs, please visit her website.