Art is a necessity in society. It allows people to escape from the stress and problems of the world just by taking a deeper look into a painting. Carol Barksdale contributes to the world’s rest and relaxation through her paintings, which can be viewed at Gallery One in Old Cloverdale in Montgomery.
Ms. Barksdale does traditional painting, as well as experimental and multimedia art. Barksdale has done many paintings that relay all of her personal experiences such as “Race the Wind,” which came as inspiration when she was out of commission for three weeks after a knee injury. Barksdale asked herself, Will I ever ride a bike again? During this time period, she created many still-life pieces, such as one of high platform shoes, built around wondering whether she would recover from her injury.
I asked Carol Barksdale, “Was painting just a natural talent for you?”
She responded, “A lot of it is self-taught, and I always loved to draw. I started drawing when I was four years old. I got my first box of large crayons from my mom when I was sick, and it just opened a whole world to me.”
Carol Barksdale was born in Florida but considers her hometown to be Wetumpka, Alabama. She achieved her artistic inspiration from traveling to many foreign places, such as France, Amsterdam, Ireland, and Mexico. On one trip to San Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico, Barksdale observed the large cobblestone cathedrals, which influenced her paintings. These large monuments are filled with tremendous stories and amazing architecture that can leave a person awestruck. (I have also visited a cathedral in Mexico and they are simply works of art!)
Barksdale attended Marymount International High School an all-girls high school in Rome, Italy that enriched her artistic talents, and after high school, the University of Alabama. While studying at UA, Barksdale majored in English Literature with a minor in art history. In art history class, she worked on illuminated manuscripts, which are handwritten books with multitudes of decorative paintings, including one of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Prologue” to The Canterbury Tales. Another one of her projects while in college was recreating The Book of Kells. This original illuminated manuscript was created ca. 800 by Columban monks. Carol Barksdale’s Book of Kells piece can still be found in the University of Alabama’s archives.
Barksdale used to work exclusively with watercolors, but over time she has evolved into using more neutral colors, such as browns and reds, to portray her images.
Throughout Barksdale’s art career, she has won many awards.For her Retrospective One-Woman Art Show at the University of Alabama in 2011, Ms. Barksdale created twenty-nine pieces of artwork. She has also been awarded an honorable mention in SAC’s Waterfront Show in 2001, received honorable mentions for her watercolors and her pastels in the ECAG Winter Show in 2003, and had her artwork published in The Montgomery Sketchbook in 2005.
Another interesting competition that Carol Barksdale participated in was the FLIMP Festival at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery’s Blount Cultural Park. In this competition, artists ranging in age from 5 to 100 draw using chalk in a parking space. One year, for this competition, Barksdale decided to draw Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” This was a challenging piece for Ms. Barksdale to complete because of the limited time permitted However, she did get it finished and it turned out amazing! In these contests, she has taken both an honorable mention and second place.
Barksdale’s artwork has also been purchased by businesses such as Colonial Bank, First National Bank of Wetumpka, and Alabama Power.
Going to Gallery One made me aware of more established artists in my city. Before my interview with Carol Barksdale, I had no idea that an art gallery was so close to home. Gallery One is home to many artists, such as Bradley Moon who does metalwork. It amazes me no matter how different artwork can be – wire work, blowing glass or traditional painting — it still has the same effect on people. Art takes people’s minds onto creative roadways so tranquil that accidents never occur on them. The same piece can be viewed at the same time by two different sets of eyes, yet each person will have completely different interpretations. What’s more amazing about art is that this same interpretation might be not at all what the artist intended! But this is OK. Art is all about perspective. A painting becomes great when a person sees something different every time he or she lays eyes on it and if a painting has many meanings then the work is a job well done.
I give homage to artists around the world! Being an artist takes a special person with an even more special talent. Some things can be taught, but some things just cannot and must come naturally. Maybe one day I will take some art lessons to perfect my stick figures, but for now I will just stick to writing about amazing artists such as Carol Barksdale, who has put her world on a big canvas for all of us to see and, in the end, greatly appreciate.