West Plains Council on the Arts (WPCA) will host an exhibition of artwork by Barbara Williams entitled “Rocks and Red Clay.” The exhibit will be displayed at the Gallery at the Center, West Plains Civic Center from September 10-30, 2018. The Gallery, on the mezzanine, is open to the public during regular Civic Center hours.
Williams was born at Myrtle, Missouri, where her family has been rooted for many generations. She received art degrees from (Southwest) Missouri State University, Springfield and Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Upon graduation she traveled extensively to add to her arts knowledge.
Since undergraduate school until now the people and material culture of the Ozarks continue as a central theme of her art. Beginning as cathartic portraits of family, a slow steady pursuit of this theme has resulted in widely exhibited paintings, prints (etchings), mixed media paintings, and photographs. An iconic etching titled “Robert, Georgie, Minnie, Troy, Lois, Nita, Lucille, Henry, Jerry, Dean, Maxine, Barbara, Norma, Nona, Sue,” a ‘snapshot’ of a rural Ozarks family having their portrait made, has been shown in national exhibits, including one at the Smithsonian Institute, and in international exhibits in Italy, Germany, Poland, England and Yugoslavia.
Portions of proofs of etchings formed the basis of many new pieces in mixed media collage paintings; recently the ancient medium of encaustic has been added to the mix.
The year 2000 was the beginning of a series documenting, drawing, painting and photographing Ozarks rock buildings (native stone masonry). Numerous exhibits, slide presentations, magazine articles, and two Ozarks Public Television programs have been presented on this subject (viewable on the OPTV, KOZK website). Forthcoming is a picture book on this subject.
Major interests have been preserving Ozarks land and culture, continuing the Ozarks tradition of making do with what you have (recycling,) women’s issues, and the pursuit of Jesus Christ. Williams served as volunteer at the Women’s Center at NIU, DeKalb, Ill. in the early 70’s, later upon moving to St. Louis she became the last president of the Community of Women Artists. When that organization segued into becoming St. Louis Women’s Caucus for Art, she became its first president.
Upon returning to the Ozarks in the 1980’s, three arts festivals were organized in West Plains under The Arts Center Committee name. Williams organized the committee and festivals toward realizing her decades long dream of forming a site called DOMINION, a folk arts retreat center in the Ozarks. That major dream has yet to be realized but she steadily works toward it.
WPCA will host an exhibit reception and presentation by Williams on Thursday, September 20, from 5-7 p.m., in the Gallery at the Center to open the 2018 Ozarks Studies Symposium. All are invited to attend, view and discuss these wonderful pieces. The exhibit is co-sponsored by the West Plains Civic Center and West Plains Council on the Arts, with partial funding provided by Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.