40 Years Painting Maine
An American painter with international reputation, Barbara Prey has been maintaining a studio and painting in Maine for over 40 years. Since her first visit as a college student, the artist was drawn to Maine with its unique landscape, traditions and residents. The paintings that come out of her Port Clyde studio capture the specific characteristics and imagery of her surroundings. Apart from the impressive coastal landscape, aspects like the increasingly difficult lives of the Maine lobster fishermen, traditions like quilting or the typical New England architecture infuse her work.
The northeastern state has a long tradition in the history of American landscape painting, thinking of artists such as Hopper, Church, Homer, Wyeth—but few, if any, are women. And for Prey it is not only Maine’s history as a landscape subject that attracted generations of artists, there is a personal connection as she has family roots on the St. George Peninsula dating to the 1700s, when her mother’s ancestors lived in some of the same white houses that we now find in her paintings.
Barbara Prey’s studio practice from her decades in Maine generated some of the best-known and most iconic works. Prey chose the remoteness of her rural Maine studio to work and focus on important projects such as her commissions for NASA. Major exhibitions like her big retrospective in Paris showed paintings from Maine and Prey’s watercolor compositions of islands, coastlines, boats or buoy-filled workshops are included in museums and private collections worldwide—the aura of the mid-coast state lives on well beyond the borderline.
40 Years Painting Maine is a synthesis of Barbara Prey’s dialogue with her immediate environs in the Port Clyde, ME area and her observations on the same location’s evolution over the course of 40 years. The exhibition further explores the strong watercolor tradition in Maine and with a woman painter, revises the male dominated art-historical tradition.
Born in New York, Barbara Prey is a graduate of Williams College with a Master’s from Harvard University. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and a grant from The Henry Luce Foundation. Prey was appointed by the President of the United States to the National Council on the Arts, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). She is an adjunct faculty at Williams College and serves on the Colonial Williamsburg Museum board. NASA commissioned the artist to document space history and she is currently commissioned by MASS MoCA to paint a monumental watercolor for their new building which opens in May 2017.