About

My road to artistic freedom has been a winding one: After earning a B.A. in Commercial Art, and a decades-long corporate career, I left my 9-5 almost 5 years ago.  I replaced the office with my studio at Clearwater Artist Studios in Concord, NC, where I’ve been happily exploring my practice full time.

I have resided in Charlotte, NC since 2004.  However, my Harlem family roots are steeped in the arts. My great-grandfather was a composer and pianist and owned a well-known Harlem jazz club during the 1940s. Jazz music was frequently played in my home; my father played the bongos! During my formative years in 1950s-60s, I was encouraged to express myself creatively and did so through singing, dance and art.

Two years into my full-time practice, the Women in Abstract Expressionism show came to Charlotte’s Mint Museum.  I was blown away!  This progressive art movement emerged during the 1940s and became a major force by the 1950s.  Bebop jazz fueled the creativity of the abstract expressionists, just as it does mine!  It became clear that inside of this amazing creative process that channels emotional states was my opportunity to experience a freedom that had eluded me for decades.

wkg on large easel action2.jpg

My work is informed by reflections of the Spiritual, the Socio-Political; and Memory.  My process begins by journaling ideas that show up via meditation, dreams, musings. Key ideas are transferred onto an ongoing list.  Each project is based upon an Idea, and I create more than one piece simultaneously.  The Idea is transferred onto a sticky which is placed on my studio Working Wall. My wonderful Working Wall serves as a support for canvas cut from rolls, thereby maximizing unconstrained medium application.  With the appropriate music feeding my soul, I begin by making random marks on the canvas typically with charcoal or pencil, then add passages of paint here and there. As the composition develops, I make adjustments to areas that make me uncomfortable. The process is repeated layer by layer as I respond with free-sweeping gestures that emanate from Spirit. It is active, physical. Oftentimes, creating a pleasing composition requires turning chaos into order using both additive and subtractive methods. I work with oil, or various forms of acrylic paint (or both), mediums, art crayons and sometimes tissue on canvas or fabric.

I’m always surprised by the images that demand (and succeed) to be expressed!  As I continue to expand through this introspective work, my hope is that the work motivates contemplation, conversation, and perhaps - personal growth.

In addition to earning a B.A. in Commercial Art from The City College of New York (CUNY) - I’ve studied at F.I.T. (New York City), The School of Visual Arts (New York City), Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte, NC) - and independently with artists Louise Farley, Lee Baumgarten, Walter Stanford, and Steve Aimone.

Group Exhibits:

·         Foster’s Framing, Huntersville, NC; May 2019

·         SouthEnd ARTS at the Trolley, December 2018

·         GreenHill Center for North Carolina Art; 2018 Winter Show

·         Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art, 2018; “The Fine Art of

ArtPop”

·         Cabarrus Arts Council, 2018; “Sometimes”

·         Artfields 2017; Juried artist

·         Clearwater Artist Studios, 2015; “H20 Flow”

·         Civic and Cultural Arts Center, 2013; “Beyond the Curve”

Solo Exhibits:

. City of Concord, NC Planning Dept.; November 2018 - March 2019

·         Clearwater Artist Studios, 2017; “Abstracting Spirit:  A New

Direction”

·         The Art House (Charlotte, NC); 2010

 

Publications and other Honors:

· Manhattan Arts International; “HerStory” 2019 Exhibition

www.manhattanarts.com

·         Featured Artist, Breakfast for the Arts 2019; Cabarrus Arts

Council

·         Podcast:  How to Be An Artist 2017;

https://www.buzzsprout.com/107511/565533-episode-3-barbara-

ellis-charlotte-nc

·         ArtPop Billboard Artist; January – December 2016; Charlotte, NC

·         Art278; October 2016 issue