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Lisa Marie Barber

2014 RAM Artist Fellowship Winner

Artist Statement

In the majority of my creative work, I aim to create small worlds that project positive interpretations of the human condition. My main artistic influences are Mexican folk art and altars rooted in my Mexican-American heritage, Bay Area Figurative Abstraction, and urban landscape. The work is intended to be both celebratory and sober, using accumulation as a way to imply richness, value, and process. All pieces are meant to self-consciously record the presence of being hand-made with minimal, simple tools; I believe this defines and embodies the base “human” spirit I wish to project.

I strive to have my work consist of several layers—physically and conceptually—to describe life as positive, elusive, and rich with sentiment and possibility. Many of my compositions are ceramic installations. Here objects are densely arranged as if around an improvised, decorated shrine. Enveloped by these collections of objects, the life-size figures suggest the human condition. (For the purpose of this application, I have included only images of my installations since they have been the primary emphasis of my studio practice for the past 20 years; I also create mixed media sculpture and quilts, drawings, and paintings.)

Some pieces are simply combinations of my favorite elements: Figures, flowers, cars, planes, buildings, and expressive mark making. Other pieces hint at general or personal narratives. Within these, themes of celebration, loneliness, freedom, and fantasy are the foundation. In all, process is dominant. Boundaries are self-imposed and accumulation is validated as decoration—a way to beautify surroundings uninvolved with the pristine.


Lisa earned her BS in Sociology/Art minor at Northern Arizona University and MFA from the University of Austin, Texas. She is currently Chair and Associate Professor in the art department at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha.

Her work has been in recent exhibitions at NCECA 2014, Milwaukee, Imagination Center, Modesto, CA, HF Johnson Gallery of Art, Kenosha, Fuller Craft Museum, Brocton, MA, and Indianapolis Art Center.

Lisa has held visiting artist residency positions at City University of New York, Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, Watershed Center for Ceramic Art, Newcastle, Maine, and Mendicino Art Center, California. She has received numerous honors and led workshops from New York to California.

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