Barbara Harman | Click on image for more details
Artist’s Statement I have explored the topic of home for many years in my art and writings. I began my current series, Homework: Meditations on the Meaning of Home, in early 2001 as a light-hearted response to my daughter and her family acquiring their first home. But September 11 and its aftermath transformed it dramatically.
Home is a universal metaphor for safety, refuge, love, family, and belonging. And while Homework draws on those associations, their opposites are represented in some of the most powerful pieces in the series. I know personally that the longed-for home of cultural myth often bears little resemblance to the one in which many of us live. The losses of September 11 remind us of the unpredictable dangers of childhood, where home as we know it can cease to exist and parents can leave and never return. In Remember (9-11), home is a ghostly leaf between two towers of lit windows. It is about the children who waited at school all that day for parents who never came back for them.
The Homework series also relates to my own experiences of being homeless. I became a ward of the state in New Mexico at the age of 14, when my mother abandoned me. For many years before that, my family lived a nomadic existence, moving at least once a year. I was regularly forced to jettison friendships, school papers, books, neighborhoods, cities, and states.
The Homework series includes monotypes, paintings, artist’s books, drawings, and a journal about home. I make my paintings and books on textured Arches paper, to which I apply many thin layers of acrylic paint. Hand-cut stamps of leaves, twigs, and birds, and stencils of houses and windows provide pictorial elements. Collaged elements include actual leaves and fragments of handwritten texts.