I began doing art 45 years ago when my children got tired of playing with play dough and found that I couldn’t stop. I began an intensive course of study in clay sculpture, first at Ohio University and then at the University of Toronto (I had majored in history in college). I made over 100 sculptures the first year. I discovered that when I worked in clay, something happened. The clay expressed back to me what I was feeling. This experience was a mystery and a miracle that I continue to marvel at today. I made sculpture about everything in and around me. I felt deep joy.
My Ongoing Art
My sculpture continues to reflect my healing journey, my ongoing engagement with biblical themes and stories, my concern for issues of abuse and social justice, and my mission work in Africa. Over the years, I have presented a variety of solo exhibitions of my work in Nashville, TN, Asheville, NC, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and New York, among other venues.
At the height of the Cold War I created a mixed media installation piece called Earthship Delphinos, which portrays a future world of peace in which dolphins and humans go into space together. I wanted to image peace in a concrete way. I was pleased to show this work in many settings including the CNN Center in Atlanta and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.
I was privileged to make the official nativity figures for the Washington National Cathedral. They are displayed each year from Christmas Eve to Epiphany.
Having done painting early in my life, I have now returned to the medium along with my sculpture. Before writing my book, Enfolded in Silence/A Story in Art of Healing from Sexual Trauma in Childhood, I did a touring show of the original paintings, poetry, and narrative (see EVENTS). Art has been a central part of my recovery, and this show and book were the culmination of many years of making art in order to heal myself. I have done paintings (as well as sculpture) of women I met during three semesters teaching in Tanzania, East Africa, culminating in a show, Women of Tanzania.
Work in Progress: Going Extinct
I am currently working on a series of sculptures depicting animals that are critically endangered. Globally, we are experiencing a rapid rate of extinction of animals due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, and poaching. I want to bring attention to this alarming situation.
What is Art all about?
Art for me is about making sacred the stuff of life. When we do art, we make the subject of our art holy. Art and faith for me are inextricably linked. When I work, I am aware that the thing I do that makes a piece work is guided by a power greater than myself.
Titles of art pieces from top to bottom, left then right side: My Soul is a Weaned Child at its Mother’s Breast, Kimberly from the Haiti paintings, Sophia’s Blessing, How Often Have I Longed, Earthship Delphinos, Earthship Delphinos Dolphin detail, Comfort.
Copyright © 2013 Barbara Hughes | design by email@example.com