Today, in the subterranean world
a young man
with hair and face of honey, and
who had not gone away from himself,
sang a song of longing
that reminded me of some place I've been, and
to not give up on myself.

I have
wandered far
away from what I thought
I wanted, or
was it someone
elses dream that left
me here alone below ground
walking the labyrinth
streets of the city in
search of home?

I tried
to capture an image
of myself, but the mirror was distorted, and
what I saw, blue specks of paint,
was not me, the child
looking back
nobody saw, or
at what was leaving, or
what stayed
true to itself.
Taos, New Mexico, 9/97

Barbara Schaefer Collection

Art of Barbara Schaefer
Abruzzi Mountain Workshop
Finestro dell oro
Reassembling - Collage Workshop

Barbara Schaefer

Artist Statement

My work explores the vibrant relationship between dance and painting. I usually begin my painting session by dancing, for movement informs me and allows a fluid and enlightening relationship with the visual.

My work in various art forms—dance, choreography, theater, poetry and music, has enhanced my present work as a visual artist. The inter-relationship of these disciplines continues to develop my awareness of the underlying principles that are essential in all art forms.

I also see my process of painting as being like that of “archaeological digging”, in which I build up layers and scrape them away, to discover what is there, or what seeks to emerge. By trusting my intuition, I bring forth what is fresh and often surprising. Through this process, I call upon our collective memory, which allows forms to emerge that reflect the essence and qualities of another time.

Writing, a morning ritual for many years, often surfaces in my paintings. Sometimes words and lines of poetry weave through as part of the textural layering, symbolically and materially holding and building the painting. Other times, a form of automatic writing arises, resembling calligraphic letters from a variety of cultures.

Like an alchemist, I think of my pallet symbolically: I mix my own paints with pigment powders, acrylic medium, and sometimes water. The “mixing” comprises part of the ritual and also allows me to control the thickness of the paint. In addition, I use mixed media such as crumbled tissue paper, photocopies, lace, and used paint rags.

My experience of living in Rome, Italy, from 1983 to 1995 has had a significant impact and influence on my work. The city's beauty has inspired me toward refinement and aesthetic choice, while it's omnipresent history such as the facades of old Rome, weathered with patina, permeates my work. Italian culture and language, so rich and lively, has compelled me to think and act in ways I would not otherwise have discovered. I see this in my work in the richly textured, un-stretched canvases I use, which appear to be part of the wall, and are often reminiscent of Italian fresco paintings. © 2003 by Barbara Schaefer. All rights reserved.

Exploring Portals

Persian Money Window I"
obsolete currency can serve as another portal, more valuable than its former incarnation.