Light sculptures by Bonita Barlow

Reflecting on the events that led me to these current works the memory of my first encounter with a prism comes to mind. As a small child I was enthralled by a world that now wore a rainbow aura. This was my first clue that the world held more than we may initially perceive.

These paintings are touchstones to remind us about the nature of creation thru perception. They not only demonstrate some basic properties of light but also signal that our relationship to it is all-important. By aligning one’s self with the light an illumination occurs. The painting looks different as you move away from the path of the light. The dark becomes the light and the light becomes the dark.

These paintings are the result of exploring the abstract for 20 years. In 2000 I began to develop this technique of adding glass bead to my oil paint. I had arrived on the shore of color field painting several years before but found that I wasn’t bringing anything new to the table. After observing a huge pile of glass in an industrial park and then inquiring about it’s use I was informed that the highway stripe paint used this glass particle and so my new direction was launched.

These paintings act like the stars at night. The darker the dark the lighter the light. If there is too much ambient light in the room the dark light contrast diminishes. For example, the best case scenario would be to have a painting across from a north light window. The light in the room would be somewhat subdued allowing the reflective parts of the painting to glow.

The angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. This requires the viewer to be in the stream of light. The use of conventional lighting is challenged here as the angles have to be right and track lighting is above the viewer. If the light is shot across the room at a long enough distance the viewer will then be in the stream of it. Living with these paintings makes you very aware of how the light travels.

To create the sense of light areas of the canvas are left glass free to create the dark. I work these light/dark areas layer by layer to create a surface tension. The brush mark is an emotional element as is the color. These are interactive pieces encouraging people to open to the work.

Bonita Barlow was born Stamford Ct 1955.

attended the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 1973-1976

In 1977, Barlow visited Alcalde New Mexico at the invitation of photographer Douglas Kent Hall. Barlow found New Mexico’ s artist-friendly atmosphere, unconventionality, and expansiveness hard to resist and moved to Santa Fe January 1 1980. By summer of that same year she traveled east to do a summer session with American Impressionsist Henry Henche at the Cape school of art in Provincetown Mass. It was there that her pursuit of the light truly began .

Barlow eventually moved  to southern New Mexico in 1992 and currently lives in the small ghost town of Kingston NM which sits at the edge of the Gila national forest.

You can find an expanded view of her work @