home                    artists                             gallery                              links                         email

       roswell artist-in-residence program

and the roswell museum and art center

January 16 - February 15, 2004


Under Siege
2002 steel, fake brick, found objects,  7' x 11' x 9'

Looking at a work by Robbie Barber is like coming across a rare find at a flea market or antique shop. Never pretentious but fully self aware, Barber strikes a unique balance between erudite "serious" sculpture and the eccentric vision of outsider art. Meticulously, almost obsessively crafted, Barber incorporates playful, cynical, humorous, and nostalgic elements to create works that reflect his observations on the American social landscape.

The Polaroid transfers that usually accompany Barber's sculptural exhibitions are equal parts sketchbook and finished art piece. These images of old sheds, barns, trailer homes, signs, agricultural structures, etc. document the vernacular architecture of rural America. Barber is interested in both the visual character of these structures and their implied history. They serve as a compendium of color, shape, texture, form and material that are frequently recreated in the sculptures. All of Barber's works suggest a wistful memory of the people who built or inhabited these places, and perhaps a way of life (or simply a life) that is no more.

In works like "Packhouse", the juxtaposition of the sagging, dilapidated tobacco barn atop an antique wheel chair make both a compelling sculptural form and a complex poetic commentary on the inevitable social change facing the rural North Carolina of Barber's upbringing. "Mobile Aire" and works like it exploit the humor, irony and tinge of sadness often present in Barber's work. The tethered airplane reinforces the immobile nature of most "mobile" homes, contradicting the myth of American mobility and freedom. "Under Siege" confronts the viewer with a satirical humor tinged with a deadly seriousness, in this case the reality of the militant strain of "survivalist" mentality in our society. The juxtaposition of the US Army trailer and small cannon mounted to the roof of the "house" structure allude to everything from domestic violence to war, and both domestic and foreign terrorism. 

At the same time, these works are somewhat playful in the toy-like quality of the minute details, showing Barber's fascination with what he calls "the visual barrage of dispensable bric-a-brac" so abundant in our culture. He is compelled to collect, assemble, recreate and juxtapose both the physical and metaphorical meanings of society's cast-offs. Like a folk artist recycling materials, Barber finds intrinsic value in the formal and poetic possibilities of fake brick shingles and toy airplanes and, ultimately, in the stories they might tell.

Diana Roberts, Director
The Center for Spirituality and the Arts
San Antonio, Texas


Barber is currently an assistant professor of sculpture at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He was a resident at the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program from 1991-92. Barber received his BFA from East Carolina University in 1987 and MFA from the University of Arizona in 1991. 


additional support provided by











Packhouse and Hammers,
1996 - 2002,
wood, found objects,
48" x 26" x 32"







Green Shack,
polaroid transfer,
8" x 10"










After Dark,
wood, steel, found objects,
18" x 13" x 10"

photo by S. Dunkerly







Mobile Aire,
wood, steel, found objects,
15" x 8" x 12"


















































2003 Roswell Artist-in-Residence Foundation. For Personal or Educational Use Only. All rights reserved. All images are the property of the Roswell Museum and Art Center Foundation and may not be reproduced without express written permission.
Copyright 200
3 All Rights Reserved
Page Design: Stephen Fleming