Written by Gale Straub
Jackie Barry was trained in printmaking at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, but she uses multiple mediums to express herself. She draws, illustrates, prints, photographs, and sews textiles. What do they have in common? Jackie’s work is tactile. Her pieces look handmade. I had the chance to talk with Jackie over the phone, and learned that this constant is quite important to her.
Jackie’s work speaks of process and trial and error. It’s a bit like those little admittances to yourself – the small realizations of an emotion in a moment. In Philadelphia, Jackie hit a creative wall, and started to feel like her work was ‘talking about living’, telling a story about living life rather than getting out there and living it. She moved to Denver because she wanted a change. She wanted to get as much out of life as she could and create art from that, rather than mulling over theory and perfection.
She worried before the transition that she would be moving backwards. She had established herself in Philadelphia and made connections. She was comfortable. But she learned that “friction is moving forward.”
Friction is moving forward.
Jackie found herself in a new place that felt right in a surprising way. There’s a city culture in Denver and incredible access to the outdoors. For Jackie, this balance was key. She loves living in a beautiful place, which inspires her. She is also inspired by the growing community of Denver-based artists. The dialog and support keeps her momentum building, even when she is not creating.
Jackie told me something that all types of creatives can agree on – “guilt and art is a constant balance.” It’s that lurking feeling that you’re not doing enough, that the time spent watching the sunset or doing your taxes or having a drink with friends is time lost. It’s also that feeling that when you’re inside making art, you’re not outside finding inspiration. This too, comes back to friction. Art and guilt play off each other and finding the right mixture keeps you moving ahead.
Jackie and her business partner make “flags for fun.” Back in Philadelphia, Jackie was a wooden boat-builder for the Independence Seaport Museum’s Workshop on the Water. There she was first inspired to make nautical flags for the boats. She took that practice and spirit with her to Denver.
The flags celebrate living in Colorado, but more than that, they celebrate every day adventures. – Jackie hand makes every flag because she doesn’t want them to look perfect. She stressed that they are human made, adding to the character and reflecting the owners and the places they go. The flags represent the small feats and joy found outdoors – apart from technology. If the flags looked perfect, they would be imitable. And where’s the fun in that?
Talking with Jackie was a reminder to embrace community, vulnerability, and the outdoors. The conversation was about creating and experimenting with new mediums, because why not? Jackie is living her art and I’m looking forward to see where it takes her next.
Photos (C) 2015 Jackie Barry