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UMS Artists in “Residence”: Meet Carolyn Reed Barritt

UMS launched a new Artists in “Residence” program during the 2014-2015 season. Five residents from across disciplines will take residence at our performances throughout our season. We’ll profile each resident here on UMS Lobby.

Gabrielle Carels (UMS): Tell us a little about yourself and your background in the Arts.

Carolyn BarrettCarolyn Reed Barritt: I studied fine art in college, but for many years afterward I worked as a graphic designer, and then an art director and illustrator. I returned to fine art a few years ago and now exhibit my artwork regionally and nationally. I also teach drawing privately and mentor other artists.

GC: Can you tell us a little about your creative process? Where can we find you working on your art?

CB: I work in ink on paper using nib pens and paint brushes. My drawings and paintings are a combination of abstract shapes, lines and linearly drawn structural elements. I start with either shape and color or drawn lines and then go back and forth adding more abstract shapes, lines and linear structures on top of each other. I spend most of my time in my basement studio.

Photo: “Amusement Park” by Carolyn Reed Barritt.
More on Carolyn’s website.
Amusement Park by Carolyn Barritt

GC: What inspires your art? Can you tell us about something you came across lately that we should check out too?

CB: I look at a lot of aerial photography — mostly historic photos of buildings and landscapes but also contemporary photography — and use what I find as inspiration for my artworks that contain structures. I’m also very inspired by patterns, colors, and images I run across in daily life. A splatter of paint across a road, a group of people waiting for a bus, hay bales in a field, a photograph of a herd of animals, etc. The patterns or colors that present themselves in these mundane moments can become the basis for one of my ink paintings.

Lately I have been watching the motion art of Australian artist Andy Thomas. He creates what he calls “audio life forms that react to sounds.” I also recently ran across the Louisiana Channel, which comes from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. It has lots of videos about art and culture including many artist interviews.

I have a long list of artists I admire and find inspiring. Recently I’ve been studying the work of contemporary artists Elliott Hundley, Darren Waterston and Lee Bontecou. I am also very happy that I was able to see the ink and animation art of Pan Gonkai at Work Gallery, and to have heard his lecture about the history of Chinese landscape painting.

GC: Are you engaged with the local arts community? Tell us about groups or events that we should know about.

CB: I meet with a small group of artists every 6 weeks or so. We share our artwork and talk about upcoming shows, art, etc. I attend as many art related lectures and exhibits around town and at University of Michigan as I can.

Photo: “Heartland” by Carolyn Reed Barritt.

Heartland by Carolyn Barritt

GC: Which performances are you most excited about this season and why?

CB: I’m anticipating the performance of Compagnie Marie Chouinard. I’m curious to see what watching choreographed movement may bring to my artwork, and I’m interested by their piece that is a choreographed version of ink drawings. I’m also excited about seeing Théâtre de la Ville because I’m intrigued by how they will portray the layering of story and character, and the overlapping realities inherent in the drama.

GC: Anything else you’d like to say?

CB: I am curious to see how my attending the UMS performances influences my art. I hope that experiencing the live combination of action, sound and visual stimuli inherent in the performances will spark new ideas about balance, composition and movement which I can bring into my own artworks.

Interested in more? Watch for more artist profiles on UMS Lobby throughout this week.