Barbara Groh's Statement
The years 2000–2011 have been an exceptional time period in my development as an artist. The show “Threads” is an opportunity to weave or thread together these special events, the choices of subject, medium and my life in Sweden and the US.
Colorado, and particularly Denver, has been the foundation for the largest part of my professional career as a painter—my teaching at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design for 16 years, and my long representation through the Sandy Carson Gallery now closed. I left Denver, my home, my teaching, and friends in 2002 to begin a new life in Sweden with my future husband.
The events directly affecting my life and art, graduate school, 9/11, Sweden, new landscapes and impressions, the illness and death of my husband, and a return to my family in New York have now been tied together through this opportunity to show my current work with Irene Delka McCray at The Sandra Phillips Gallery. It is a return to my beginnings and artistic home.
My current body of work is a continuing narrative focusing on my experiences of a daily practice of noticing phenomena as it encompasses past experience to the most current expression for my visual imagery…a synthesis of memory, perception, meditation and inner-movement. I hope to instill in the viewer a sense of place and recognition through universal textures and visual language.”
I realize that there is a direct connection to Earth, Water and Air in my choices of medium and related expressions. I think that is interesting—I like how things “thread” together even though it is not a conscious decision.
EARTH ART STORIES:
1. “HAM SONG” and “VAM SONG”
These two earth works are made of clay that was dug from the ground surrounding the oak tree planted in memory of my late husband, Per Wahlstrom. The tree is on the land where we lived in Sweden, with a view of the sea and our home.
The colors blue and orange are compliments of each other—and at the same time I was studying the color theory associated with Chakras. Each of the 6 or 7 chakras (depending on philosophy) has designated colors and chants.
VAM SONG: Sacral Chakra
Chant sound: VAM (repeated 8 times)
Properties: groundness, health, home, movement, transformation
HAM SONG: Throat Chakra
Chant sound: HAM (repeated 8 times)
Properties: Breath, sound, purification, goodness, truth
2. “STRAND SONG”
The black sand is from Block Island, located in Block Island Sound, Atlantic
Ocean, south of New Hampshire and north of Long Island. The sand is mineral heavy and abundant along the sand dunes. The colored cords running through the art are from my area of Sweden and are fisherman’s cords, treated with tar for water and weather protection.
The name “Strand” is Swedish for “ Beach”.
3. “MORNING STAR SONG”
The earth in this piece is pure ochre clay from Santa Fe, New Mexico. The threads are unraveled from my studio oil painting rags from my last show in Sweden, “Brooklyn-Hallavara”. The name “Morning Star” is the Native American name for the shape of the symmetrical cross, created by the threads. (the Native American architect from Santa Fe, Jasper Vassau, building a home high in the high hills, dug the ochre clay for me, and also told me the name of the cross shape, which he has also carved into the beams in his home.)
4. “ROCK SONG”
The earth is clay from a natural ravine on my father’s farm in western New York State. (my husband Per purchased my father’s farm to secure the
future for my dad and his wife on the farm—so, all the clays I use are connected to my issues of “home”.) The netting has been used by the
fishermen in my area of Sweden, as my home was connected to the life of the local harbor.
I began drawing graphite lines on a large roll of paper for my graduate degree program in painting from Vermont College. Most of the lines were created “blind”, un-modified, two-handed and authentic as possible. Sometimes I looked, controlled and measured. I completed the lines in the year 2000. The drawings were displayed, unrolled, at MOCAD the same year, along with Ed Hardy’s 2000 dragons in the show “The Sensational Line”, curated by Cydney Paton.
The Meditation Lines now take a new form, laminated on painted poplar wood boards, in various widths and lengths. The new lines continue the direct language of mark-making—a diary of thought and movement—to the current moment in my life.
The prints (etchings, monotypes and engravings) were created in Helsingborg, Sweden at the Arnesson Print Studio. Peter Arnesson has worked with master printers, and is himself an accomplished printmaker, painter and musician.
The theme “Thread” and my life near the Swedish sea, has informed the imagery, texture, and feelings for the prints. Once again, exposure to the geology of landscape and history modify my responses to the magic of daily life.
The threads and fabrics used to etch, press and emboss or to actually collage in the paper are connected to my life in Sweden, but travel over time and space to my life in the US.