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Libby Barbee Comes Home to PlatteForum Creative Residency in Denver


Libby Barbee Comes Home to PlatteForum Creative Residency in Denver

PlatteForum Creative Residency  is not the easiest space to find, tucked away in an urban neighborhood about a block away from the MCA Denver at the base of the Millennium Bridge, but it is definitely worth the effort. Indicative of the level of the programming to be discovered- PlatteForum has received multiple awards including the prestigious 2011 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award delivered by Michelle Obama to ArtLab student Sal Martinez Flores and Judy Anderson at the White House.

Judy Anderson, the founder and Artistic Director is an unstoppable force. Before moving to Denver in 2002 and establishing PlatteForum she (to name a few of her long list of accomplishments) was Professor and Chair of the Division of Design, School of Art at the University of Washington, past President of the University and College Designers Association. Her personal artwork has been exhibited in major galleries and museums in the country, has toured in exhibitions in Japan, England, United States, Europe and the Soviet Union, and is in the permanent collection at the Getty Museum, Walker Art Center, New York Public Library, and the Universities of Utah, Delaware, and Washington.

Her foundational nugget of wisdom- select and support the best artists from an international pool who then mentor and teach a group of underserved students over 6-8 weeks. The students and artist form a bond over incipient failures and the grand successes inherent in the exploration of the artist’s process. In a large studio space that is open to the public the artist works towards completion of a new body of work while the students learn new skills, new achievements and create pieces of art under the mentorship of the artist and supporting staff.

The current resident, Libby Barbee, who is originally from a small farming town on the Southeastern plains of Colorado, has returned to her home state after completing her MFA at Maryland Institute College in Art and a residency at Vermont Studio.  During her residency at PlatteForum Barbee has been using multiple tools of exploration, including large-scale landscape collage and sculptural elements to question and test boundaries of the human relationship and impact on the land, plants and animals.

Libby Barbee in residence at PlatteForum

Barbee’s final result, Wilderness & Other Fictions, is dominated by her use of large-scale collage.  Bierstadt, made from collected and discarded papers, is an exemplary document of her start and then exodus from the romantic notions and myths set by early American photographers and painters from the Hudson River School. Even though there is an initial reading of beauty and awe in her landscapes, Barbee’s employ of collage is a descriptor of the pretext of what she terms “the American frontier myth.” There is no lush disposition of paint glossing over the messiness of the frontier life only a technical residue of the ripped image.

Alongside and with her own body of work, Barbee’s mentorship of students from the Colfax Community Network started with prompts- questions and then a search for equilibrium. True to this query and within the structures, limits and then in response to spaces, Barbee has developed a multi-media exhibition where “the viewer steps into a synthetic urban wilderness. At the center sits the large kinetic sculpture Synthetic Symbiosis, a complex Rube Goldberg-inspired form operated by four antique hand crank generators, revealing an interconnected synthetic eco-system dependent on human interaction for energy…and her youth has created hybrid creatures adapted for inhabiting their urban environment.”

Wilderness and Other Fictions

A mixed media installation

Libby Barbee + Colfax Community Network Youth

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, May 3, 2012, 5:30 – 8:00 pm

EXHIBITION:  continues through May 23, 2012

Tuesday-Saturday, noon – 4:00 pm or by appointment, 303.893.0791

LOCATION: 1610 Little Raven Street, Suite 135, Denver, CO 80202


Event free and open to the public