Barbara Blades began her art career in the mid 1970's when she joined the Jan Cicero Gallery. She was also a former member and past co-president of Artemisia Gallery, the first Chicagowomen’s co-operative. Past gallery representation also includes Kathryn Markel Fine Arts inNew York City.
Blades’ work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions locally, regionally and
internationally: The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois State Museum in Springfield, Chicago
Cultural Center. Her work was included in “The New Millennium: Illinois Women Artists”, a
traveling exhibition that was shown at The National Museum for Women in the Arts in
As part of the Artemisia Gallery International Exchange Program, she participated in group
exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. Her work has also been shown in college and university
galleries, including Studio Arts Center (SACI), Florence Italy. She has also lectured at some of
these exhibition venues, including SACI and l’Accademia in Florence, with other Artemisia
Gallery members. Other lectures and workshops include universities, schools, cultural centers and museums in the Chicago area, Decatur and Rockford, IL. She has also lectured and exhibited her work in “Outstanding Alumni” at her alma mater, Webster University in St. Louis MO. In 1992 she was the appointed mentor to a Pugialis Prize painting student at Columbia College, Chicago where she has also conducted workshops.
Blades’ work has been reviewed extensively in local publications and others throughout the U.S. and abroad, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times and the New Art Examiner. She is represented in many public and private collections in the U.S. including Germany andKorea. Awards and grants include an Illinois Arts Council Project Completion Grant and a CAIP (Chicago Artists International Program) grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Other honors are the Evanston Mayor's Award in the Arts, for her longstanding commitment tothe arts in Evanston. She is also a recipient of the Arts and Youth Award from the Evanston Arts Council for her outstanding achievements in bringing arts programming to children.
From 1988 – 2000 Barbara Blades was the coordinator of the Youth Fine Arts Program at the
Evanston Art Center where she was also an instructor and program writer for the program. She founded and coordinated Artreach and Artfocus outreach programs for the EAC.
As a long-standing member of the Evanston Art Center Exhibition Committee, Blades co-curated Trace Memory, Once Upon a Time and Now, and acted as coordinator of Mary Dritchel > In Retrospect. She also co-curated Metamorphosis at Noyes Cultural Center.
About the Exhibit
The expansion of minimal elements reflects my personal economy.
Through modules that stand alone or form diptychs, triptychs, multiples
and room-size installations, connections between images form a
Obsessiveness is reflected in my earliest work in the form of repeated
patterning. I've made series of work that concern personal obsessions.
One example is a 90 piece installation of paintings involving the history
of women's work.
This work reflects an obsession that began with a photograph of my
back yard after a summer storm, taken from a second floor window. I
divided the photograph into sections. but have only painted two sections:
CTA Jungle and My Jungle. I have taken elements of My Jungle to
make Up Close1 and 2. This is a tedious process, but as I select sections
of My Jungle I find that each section contains interesting imagery,
compelling me to further exploration.