Artist's Statement

My works deal with examination of dark realities that are rarely spoken. Memories and thoughts are never clear and my paintings reflect the layers that hide or protect our past, the things we cherish and the things we'd love to forget. Quite often in life, things that are out of our control have such impact on our lives, not physically really but emotionally, things that we will carry with us forever. The good and the bad both weigh us down and fill us up, to the point that there's no room left. Then one day, something happens that forces you to shift things, reposition and prioritize the weight to a more manageable point for the time being.

I paint on mahogany plywood and use a mix media approach. Resist techniques are used with the paint application. Gouging and scratching is done with various hand tools, shovels and hoes are used to scrape the work and expose the earlier layers to create a sense of time. Images are applied to the work by using a very primitive printing technique and manipulating the cut after various applications.

The creation of a piece is a very physical activity. I get lost in the painting and struggle between layers, caught in a dilemma of exposure and protection. It's an exhausting process and yet I find it so satisfying.


For more info on the artist, click here: Michael Barber


It was about 2 a.m. when I got the call that Gramma B wasn’t going to make it through the night and I should come to the hospital to say goodbye. When I walked into her room and stood beside her bed, she began speaking to me in a language I’d never heard before. I couldn’t understand a word she said, she was speaking through tears. When I left her room, the emptiness I felt was unimaginable. 

Gramma B survived the Mush Hole.  She never spoke about her experience.  I heard she was punished for speaking her language.

The sculpture is called “taker.”  The message across the face is written in Mohawk, it means “ I love you Gramma.”