Originally from Tucson, AZ, Lisa Marie Barber received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Currently Associate Professor and Art Department Chair at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, she has been teaching there since the fall of 2003.
Barber has participated in group and solo exhibitions at a variety of institutions including Gallery 221, New York; the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City; and Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis. She received the Emerging Artist Award from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (2002) and the internationally competitive 2006–2007 McKnight Artist Residency Award, and has been featured in American Craft Magazine.
For most of my professional career, I’ve created large-scale ceramic installations where passive figures occupy dense arrangements as if centerpieces to improvised shrines. While my aesthetic and process have stayed the same, I have cropped down the work over the years, making it easier to transport, install, and store—the mundane practicalities most artists have to consider.
These smaller assemblages and all my recent artwork, encompass my imagined, decorative conceptions of home, gardens, peacefulness, playfulness, and celebration. These themes occupy my days either as literal realities or as philosophical musings on what may encapsulate the simpler, yet more evolved life.
My aesthetic sensibility is rooted in Central American Folk Art and the Mexican Catholic shrines of my heritage and upbringing. For most of my childhood in Southern Arizona, this was the artwork I knew and I practiced making creations in similar ways. Whether it was through my novice interpretation or some forgotten informal training I received as a child, I came to believe that ornamentation and excess denoted value and importance. Materials weren’t required to be “fine” and tools were expected to be simple. Evidence of “the hand” (the maker) was never something to be self-conscience of or craftily removed.