On a long wall of the second floor of the 100W residency, Katie Barrie stands in front of four large canvases and a high table covered neatly with tubes of paint. “I like working big. I thought that I would be focused on the effect of the oil industry in this town, but I have ended up really working on pieces drawn from this space” Barrie said.
Her influences are apparent from the pieces. Though they are saturated geometric shapes of color, the clear outline of a derrick juts upwards against a stylized horizon. In another, the glare across the large arched windows create triangles which bisect the panes. A third is the reverse side of the small façade on the west side of building’s roof, identifiable by its incline and the small turrets peeking over the edge.
“My biggest inspiration, easily, is going up to the roof every night and seeing all the colors in the sunset,” says Barrie.
Barrie is originally from the lakes and hills of Northern Michigan. However, it is her time in California — first Los Angeles and then the Bay Area — that led her to begin painting abstract landscapes of what she terms “managed” spaces. “I would see a National Park, but there would be a traffic jam in one area and an entirely ignored other beautiful part, just based on what had been designated as an attraction,” explains Barrie.
The intersectionality of human culture and the land that it both preserves and mars led her to Corsicana, where she was interested in particular with a rural Texas town with a history of oil.
Abstraction, rather than realism, means that the image on the canvas is meant to evoke the images and connect a viewer of the art with the ideas and sentiments of the subject, rather than to depict the subject itself.
She has several artist residencies lined up when she is away from her Vermont home. She works in the book store of a large residency in a small town in Vermont. “The winters are brutal, but I wanted to get the experience of a very small town.”
This summer she will do a residency in upstate New York in association with Golden Paints and another in Eastern Iceland.
Barrie had no expectations for what Texas would look like, except for the various depictions in pop culture, but she has found the experience to be worthwhile and pleasant.
“Every residency is unique. The one in Vermont has nearly 50 residents and multiple buildings,” explains Barrie. “Here, especially downtown, people are always friendly, asking me ‘are you over there making art?’”
It may not have been a series of landscapes inspired by the erstwhile oil boom, but it is clear that through the 100W Residency, Corsicana has made an impact on Barrie’s work.