Denee Barr’s Solo Exhibit’s Reception Tonight!


Denée Barr


Nature of Things: Transformations within Nature

March 30 – May 29, 2009


When Denée Barr photographs a tree, she’s creating a portrait. She brings out the tree’s unique character, how its branches spread to catch the sun, how some were bent or broken by wind, and how it fits into the landscape that is its home.


This elegant survey of more than a decade of photographs from nature is on view at Adkins Arboretum Visitors Center March 30 through May 29. Strikingly beautiful in their rich velvety toning, they capture the character and seasonal richness of trees, ponds and fallen leaves from the Eastern Shore to Washington’s Kenilworth Gardens to the artist’s hometown of Columbia, MD.


The public is invited to a reception Saturday, April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. not only to meet the artist and hear her talk about her work, but also to hear her sing. An accomplished singer and winner of the 1979 Howard University’s International Vocal Solo Competition, Barr will perform music in keeping with the spring season. In addition, there will be a special silent auction of a collection of her one-of-a-kind photo notecards with the winner announced at the reception.


Although she photographs a wide variety of places and people, Barr especially loves to explore nature. An irrepressible experimenter, she also loves to explore photography as a medium. She is continually looking for ways of bringing a painterly sensitivity and richness to her work.


Each of Barr’s photos is a unique work of art printed onto archival art paper that she has hand-coated with strokes of emulsion. Most of her works are toned with selenium for its delicate, warm browns, reminiscent of antique photographs, a quality she often emphasizes by bathing her photos in tea or India ink.


She explained, “Each image is different. Depending on how aged the chemicals are, there’s almost a gold tone. The emulsions are very tricky to work with. I couldn’t make them the same even if I wanted to.”


This show also includes photograms of leaves printed directly on photosensitive paper and pieced together with textured handmade paper.


Barr said, “They look preserved, almost fossilized, if you will. It’s like peeling back layers of nature.”


Given the expressiveness of these photos, it comes as no surprise that Barr studied painting before she went into photography. What is surprising is that she began her studies in engineering, rather than art, at the University of Maryland in the early 1980’s. By the end of that decade, she had moved on to work in film, even making a short documentary during a six-week visit to China. Her concentration on photography didn’t come until the early ‘90’s when she took a photography class and subsequently became a fulltime fine arts photographer.


Barr feels that every part of her varied background contributes to her work. From her early studies in engineering, she learned about the physics of light that aid her in considering the effects of refraction and reflection in her work, while the sequencing of scenes in film carries over into how she creates series of photographs.


“I always have that narrative in mind,” she explained. “Sequence, series and collection. One image leads into the next image.”


During her first visit to Adkins Arboretum in 2003, Barr photographed a series of trees along the edge of the South Meadow. Full of the sensual textures of grasses and delicate bare branches, two of these photos hang side by side in this show. A cluster of trees in one shot and a single, many-branched tree in the other stand sentry in a hushed, wintry landscape. Under moody skies, these bare trees seem to bristle with suppressed energy, as if waiting, poised to burst back to life with the spring.


“My work is about cycles and transformation,” Barr explained. “We’re fortunate to live in this area where profound transformations occur in nature throughout the year. I hope you see how my work’s about going through the cycle. It’s my sense of wanting to discover what’s right in our backyard. You don’t have to travel to far-flung places to shoot. Whatever you really know best is going to be your best work.”


This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view March 30 through May 29 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410-634-2847, ext. 0 or for gallery hours.


Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.



~ by mdpictureit on April 18, 2009.

One Response to “Denee Barr’s Solo Exhibit’s Reception Tonight!”

  1. Happy Spring!
    Thanks so much for posting my Adkins Arboretum exhibit.
    Warmest Regards,
    Denee Barr

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