"Southwestern Sunset" by  ROWAN NYMAN

"Southwestern Sunset" by ROWAN NYMAN



Barbara Syburg embraces change. After being a part of the first group of women to graduate with a Bachelor Of Fine Arts Degree from Notre Dame University, Barbara embarked on a life filled with creativity and cross country moves. Most recently, in 2017, Barbara traded the red rock landscapes of New Mexico for the blue ridged horizons of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. When Barbara first began contemplating relocation, her creative life also began to transition. Life as a fiber artist has given way to life as a gourd artist.



In the early 1980's Barbara's passion for color and pattern lead her away from her early pursuit of painting and photography, and towards an exploration of quilting. As she translated design ideas and drawings to fabric, Barbara found herself breaking away traditional quilt work, and she began creating bold geometric quilted images. For over a decade she exhibited quilted creations like the one displayed above her shoulder in the picture above on the left.  Over time her art quilts transitioned into wall pieces made from fabric, minus the quilting. These images, presented as fiber paintings, were inspired by scenes from the Southwest, and drawn from iconic photographs in the Library of Congress.


It was a simple chance encounter with some gourds that lead Barbara to step away from her work with fiber and fully embrace a new medium. Despite this change, Barbara's lifelong use of drawing and painting to explore ideas and envision images has remained constant. Barbara pulls her inspiration from the endless abundance of nature, and she set up her painting studio so that she can paint while overlooking a view of Western North Carolina's peaceful blue ridged mountains. Fine point pens, colored pencils and acrylic paint were used to develop the designs above that Barbara regards as studies for future gourd paintings.


Barbara sees a dried gourd as a blank canvas. After considering the shape, thickness and texture of the gourd, she begins transforming its surface through the use of  wood burning techniques, or through carving and sculpting the gourd. Barbara loves the physical transformation of her canvas and refers to this part of her studio time as "Fun with power tools!". She builds on the altered surface of the gourd by developing often intricate imagery with ink dyes and transparent acrylic paints. These images evolve from the studies she executes in paint. Barbara lets the gourds "speak" to her, and each three dimensional painting is a unique dialogue with the voices of nature and time that have already left their mark on the gourd.


Barbara's Fine Art Gourds are a celebration of the beauty in the natural world. Each one-of-a-kind piece has a tangible presence that asks to be picked up, explored, and appreciated. This is art that speaks of and to life.