Elizabeth Barlow Now Is The Time | 31 Women | Whitney Modern

31 Women

Elizabeth Barlow Now Is The Time - 31  Women

ELIZABETH BARLOW: Now Is The Time

Oil on Canvas  
12 x 12 in

Elizabeth Barlow was always absolutely certain she would live a life creating “something”. Indeed, she is living a creative life—drawing as a child, visiting art galleries with her parents, a home with walls filled with her father’s paintings (Phillip Barlow, 1932-2018), as well as the work of many other artists. After undergraduate work in theater, journalism and history, Barlow studied painting at UC Berkeley earning a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio Arts and spent a semester at the Art Students League in New York City. At the present time, Barlow continues to create work for her series called Portraits in Absentia. In this series, she paints still life “portraits” of people using cherished or symbolic objects, rather than their faces, to illuminate their characters and lives. She is also working on a series called Portraits of Gardens in which she gathers flowers and branches from a particular garden and then creates a deconstructed still life that celebrates the character of that particular garden or gardener. Barlow tells us that she has always been very disciplined. “Since I am a realist, there is the stark fact that my artmaking requires a lot of time.” Her days revolve around a very devoted studio practice. She believes that being a painter is like being a ballet dancer or a pianist, requiring a daily devotion to the practice. She recalls that “the great cellist, Pablo Casals was asked why, at 90, he continued to practice every day. He replied, ‘Because I see some improvement.’” Inspired by other creatives, Barlow looks to Georgia O’Keeffe, Vanessa Bell, Anne Truitt, Mary Oliver, Suzanne Farrell and Rachel Ruysch, and essentially all of the arts: music, dance, theater, painting, poetry. “All that speaks of the hidden, mysterious inner essence residing in each of us.” Barlow continues to seek to find a way to express this hidden inner aliveness. Whenever she needs an energy boost, she turns to her books about ballet. “The great American ballerina Maria Tallchief told her students ‘Ballet is like a religion.’ What she meant is that it requires a religious devotion—to show up at the barre every day, no matter how much your body hurts and no matter what else is going on in your life. Just reading those words gives me energy and reminds me that my first duty is to show up at the easel—because it is in that showing up that the muses reside.”

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