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Barbara Kemp Cowlin

About the artist...

Barbara Kemp Cowlin makes paintings with a skewed perspective, idiosyncratic colors and patterns, a sense of fun and an underlying feeling of foreboding. My fear of being lost and of loss in general creates anxiety manifested in my recurring nightmares. This is reflected in my paintings. The reality of working in my studio brings me daily joy. These contradictory feelings address the dichotomies I experience between reality and my dreams.

I observe structures in the built environment. When light hits surfaces it liquefies them causing luminosity. Clashing colors, disruptive yet also strangely beautiful, challenge a reality that constantly shifts and changes. My aim is to capture these contradictions as I paint.

The “Askew” paintings teeter between happiness and anxiety. Hard edges, geometric shapes and bright colors contrast with areas of soft washes which exist as a symbolic escape from my anxiety.

Indicating the flow of time as it warps, flips, and steadies, the paintings balance the slipperiness of memory with reality. A sense of humor glimmering throughout helps balance the unpredictable nature of life with hope.

Shapes pop in and out. The forms suggest impossible spaces to get through—or are they playful challenges to navigate?

Solidly colored shapes vs textured; hard edges vs ragged; accurate perspective coupled with skewed perspective. These contrasting passages, with a confusion of intersecting spaces, are inconsistencies mirroring the uncertainties of life and the relativity of time.

Barbara Kemp Cowlin lived and worked in Oracle, Arizona, a small mountain town between Phoenix and Tucson.

She earned a BFA in Printmaking and an MA in Printmaking from Northern Arizona University. In 2023, Barbara Kemp Cowlin received the Arizona Commission on the Arts Research and Development Grant. She was awarded the 2019 Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Individual Artist Grant, in addition to being a finalist in 2018 and 2014. She was selected to participate in the Ox-Bow Longform Residency in 2021. The artist received an Anonymous Was a Woman Emergency Relief Grant in 2020 and Professional Development Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts in 2015.

Solo exhibits include Wright Contemporary Gallery Project Room, Taos, NM, 1ART Gallery, Tucson, AZ, the Eric Fischl Gallery, Phoenix College, Phoenix, AZ; The Balcony Gallery at London Gold in Scottsdale, AZ; Rancho Linda Vista Gallery, Oracle, AZ; Powell Museum in Page, AZ; Casa Grande Art Museum, Casa Grande, AZ; Blue Dome Gallery, Silver City, NM; Yuma Art Center, Yuma, AZ; Agua Caliente Ranch Park Gallery in Tucson, AZ; Willo North Gallery, Phoenix, AZ; and the @ Central Gallery, Burton Barr Central Library, Phoenix, AZ.

Collections include the City of Phoenix Print Collection; University of Arizona Special Collections; Providence Medical Center, Everett, Washington; Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio; First Bancorp Headquarters, Troy, North Carolina; Baylor University Medical Center, Houston, Texas; Edison & Sprinkles Architecture & Design, Vancouver, British Columbia, Grafix Company, Maple Heights, Ohio.​

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