Barbara Campbell Thomas

Barbara Campbell Thomas

Painting | Climax

The North Carolina Arts Council supports diverse and innovative artists with fellowships professional development and more to enhance the state’s brand and drive economic impact.

Some artists try to draw a bright line between their life and their work, keeping them separate as possible to avoid letting the disorder in one infringe upon the control they aspire to in the other. Barbara Campbell Thomas creates work that embraces the unity of her life and her art, drawing on one to feed the other. As she says, “My life as a painter intertwines with my life as a mother; obligations to care my children condition every hour of the day, handing me a studio schedule that dances between home and workspace, necessitating a fluid focus that ‘makes do’ with what I am given – both in time and visual inspiration.”

Campbell Thomas’s current work combines painting with quilting, overlaying their visual vocabularies to create complex formal dialogues within each piece that resonate with the details of the artist’s own life and history with the media. She came relatively late to quilting, which she learned from her own mother, but quickly realized its power as a domestic art form practiced traditionally by women to inform and expand the range of her painting. She compares the result to medieval Mappae Mundi, which charted an interior geography as much or more than an objective, literal one.  This imaginative synthesis carries viewers into new spatial realms that provide fresh rewards with each turn and line taken.

Barbara Campbell Thomas is a 2018-2019 N.C. Arts Council Artist Fellowship winner. Among her many achievements, she has been included in two shows at the The Painting Center in New York as well as in New American Paintings, all in 2016. She has had residencies at Siena Art Institute in Italy, the Hambidge Center in Georgia, and others. Her work is the collection of the Weatherspoon Art Museum. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and lives in Climax.