Until the day that you are me and I am you.- Stevie Wonder
So sang the incomparable songsmith, and what Wonder poeticized, another socially committed artist, best known as Barber, expresses in his own brand of visual shorthand.
“Until we can see ourselves in the other,” he says, “some despondent group among us will be constantly fighting for the rights of life.”
The next installment of his creative community building is the self-titled Barber Paints People in Middle America, an exhibition of stylized figure paintings, which opens Thursday, September 3, from 6-8 p.m. at the Pace/Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center in Council Bluffs.
Barber is a local artist and community leader who works in paint and collage assembly. His most recent portraits continue to reflect themes both humanistic and personal. To accommodate this more conceptual vision, Barber’s work has evolved as well.
“In 2004, I broke free from conventional figurative painting into figurative abstraction addressing the fluidity of personhood and the oneness of humanity,” Barber said in his show statement. “The fluidity of identity creates an open narrative. In the light of current unrest from racial tension, my two-dimensional works are created to support the day when you are me and I am you — conversations of equality.”
And of safety. Pace has scheduled an artist Q&A for Thursday, September 17 from 7-8 p.m., but advises thatguests “evaluate their risk in determining whether to visit. Any interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to COVID-19, and we cannot guarantee that you will not be exposed during your visit. Masks are required.”
Barber wouldn’t have it any other way. Like his art, the artist is all about engagement. Both promise to provoke questions rather than provide easy, simple answers. Barber’s art, much like truth itself, is multi-layered…and well worth the exploration. Like his previous exhibits in the Metro, the experience reveals that despite our differences, we have much more in common. Barber Paints People in Middle America continues at Pace until the end of the year.