Visual artist, Barbara Penn, makes paintings, installations and mixed media work. Her art often draws from personal, socio-political and/or media portrayals of culture. Penn and her works have traveled nationally and internationally through grants, fellowships, artist residencies, and numerous solo and group exhibitions.
Penn’s work showcased an early ‘Dickinson inspired’ installation, at SMoCA, in 2020’s Unapologetic: All Women, All Year. (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art). In 2019, Penn’s recent print works, were part of the Arizona Print Invitational, at Davis Dominguez Gallery in Tucson. In 2018-19, the Phoenix based ACLU’s exhibition, IN THIS TOGETHER, included Penn’s work, which exhibited statewide to nine venues. Another of Penn’s large ‘Dickinson inspired’ installations was recreated and featured at the Tucson Museum of Art for its’ international exhibition, Dress Matters: Clothing as Metaphor, 2017-18. In 2017, Penn had a solo show of her paintings at Sierra Vista College. At the Yuma Art Center, the 2015 Southwestern Invitational jury selected one of Penn’s large contemporary acrylic paintings. From there, her work toured statewide to five Arizona galleries & museums,
2015-16. In the last venue, Penn’s painting was displayed at the Phoenix Airport Museum—one of eight artists, selected from the original 100 artists in the Yuma exhibition. Noteworthy for Penn, her paintings were presented in Tucson’s Focus-Five Women Artists (Davis Dominguez Gallery) and Rearranging the Sands (Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery), in 2013.
Significant solo exhibitions include Harwood Museum Foundation Studio (Taos, NM), Gallery A & ARTEMISIA Gallery (Chicago, IL), Gallery Paule Anglim (San Francisco, CA), Galerie Napela (Berlin, Germany) and Studio Lo-do Contemporary Arts Gallery (Phoenix, AZ). Penn took part in two and three person exhibitions held at Galleri Se Konst and Rattviks Konstall in Sweden.
Penn’s work also appeared at Aigantighe Art Gallery and Museum, Timaru, New Zealand, at The Academie of Beeldende Kunst (Gent, Belgium), Galerie Schoen + Nalepa (Berlin, Germany), Basel Miami International at Artpoint (Miami, FL), Navy Pier (Chicago, IL), The Educational Alliance (New York, NY), The Mead Art Museum (Amherst, MA) and The Obere Galerie im Haus am Lutzowplatz (Berlin, Germany). Topical exhibits of two/three persons included Domestic Wild, College of Idaho (Caldwell, ID), On Common Conscience, Keene State College (Keene, NH) and Ground Game, University of Colorado (Boulder, CO).
All of Penn’s ‘Emily Dickinson’ inspired installations were featured in Kore Press's 2011 BIG READ TUCSON’s Lecture Series at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA,Tucson), funded by the N.E.A. in partnership with Arts Midwest. Penn was invited as Artist-in-Residence to Orsa Graphic Print Studio, Orsa, Sweden (same year). Invitational residencies include Harwood Museum and Foundation (NM), Frans Masereel Centrum (Belgium), Organizatorzy Pleneru (Poland), Millay Colony for the Arts, and Yaddo (NY). Penn also participated in privately sponsored residencies, one in Montreuil near Paris and another near Marrakech, Morocco in 2012.
Early in her career, Penn was awarded a fellowship to Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan (NY and Maine, 1985). Penn joined the faculty of the School of Art at the University of Arizona in 1991. She taught all levels of foundations, painting, drawing, and mixed media, and won many grants for her research. Penn was honored with the Roy A. & Stardust K. Johnson Faculty Mentoring Award (U.A.College of Fine Arts, 2016), and named Professor Emerita in Art (Office of the President, University of Arizona, 2018).
Self-Arising Awareness in the 2nd Thousand World, acrylic on canvas, antique bed-sheet, 78 in x 60 in, 1997.
Her Voice, acrylic on Pellon, 112 in x 140 in, 2007.