Interview: Artist Carol Barre

TROY – Local painter Carol Barre doesn’t feel her artwork is personal. In fact, she’s emphatic that it isn’t at all personal.

“My work is changing every day, but I don’t feel it is personal,” she explained. “I think of myself as an Abstract Colorist. I love exploring color and shape and try very hard to be anti-story.”

Barre, who proudly shared her age as 73 years old, didn’t begin to pursue art professionally until she was 63. Before that time, she worked in various jobs, from substitute teaching to painting murals and even offering private art classes in her house.

“I didn’t do things like other people did. I waited ten years to go to college,” she recalled. When she did attend St. Rose for Art, she both loved the work and found it challenging. When she entered the art education field, it correlated with the budget cuts in sports, art and music, which redirected her away from the classroom.

“You name it, I did it,” she mused, recalling her early professional years as exploratory. But since retiring, she bought a townhouse and set up a studio in her home, determined to paint and, as she phrased it, “go professional!”

Barre’s excitement about color and painting is viable in her recent works. From her trip to Tuscany, Italy, seven years ago to the recycled paint series, Barre’s interest in shape and color emerges both clearly and vibrancy.

“The Recycled Paint Series is literally paint I recycled from projects I had previously completed. I would look at the dried paint on the pallet and feel it shouldn’t be thrown away, so I recycled it,” she reasoned.

Barre’s story resists an easy narrative, fluctuating between interests and experiences much as life takes one on a journey. “I’ve tried telling a story with my work, but honestly I find it better to just let the art be,” she wisely mused.

Her current show in Troy displays ten pieces of figure work with intentionally no facial expressions or markings. “My daughter was my model,” she explained, but the paintings were more an exploration of how color and shape create emotion and memory.

“I take a lot of photographs, and I often start with a picture and just sketch it out. Then I remove the photo and just paint, which is how many of these paintings came to fruition,” Barre described.

Barre’s work is currently on display at The Storefront Gallery in South Troy alongside a number of women artists in the show titled WOMENXWOMEN. “It’s an exciting show to be a part of, especially because I feel it demonstrates that women have varied interests from what might be expected,” she beamed.

Her paintings do seem to show genuine excitement about engagement with color and texture. She explained, “Color is my muse, my real inspiration.”

Barre admits she was deeply influenced and inspired by “the extraordinary  Vincent van Gogh, but also Wolf Kahn, Richard Diebenkorn and Helen Frankenthaler, all amazing colorists that are not with us anymore.”

She loves watching people come and respond to her work and finds it inspiring to hear strangers talk to each other and enjoy her art, interacting with her projects.

“It just makes my day,” she smiled.

Carol Barre’s work is on display at the Storefront Gallery in Troy, New York. The gallery is on 344 Second Street and is also the host of an open microphone afternoon for singers and songwriters on the first Sunday of each month. You can check out her work, as well as the other women artists, now through summer.

Comments are closed.