Deborah Baronas finds that the combination of art and history is especially potent as it can inspire and educate a broad audience. Baronas has captured the lives of Rhode Island and Massachusetts 19th century textile mill workers, domestic servants and tobacco farm field hands, whose cultural histories are reflected in hand stenciled scrims, paintings, artifacts, and other media. These become part of the backdrop and commentary, both literally and figuratively in her upcoming show at Wistariahurst Museum during the months of March and April.
After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design with a degree in Textiles, and working for many years in the textile industry, both abroad and in New York, Deborah Baronas returned to art, painting familiar landscapes. Despite the desire to describe these places, the images did not reflect the story she wanted to tell. Growing up on a farm, and as a textile designer, Baronas was immersed in these working cultures, which had a profound influence on her work, shifting between the worlds of glamour and gritty work culture.
The work of Deborah Baronas is held in numerous collections and has been shown at the Slater Mill Gallery, The Museum of Work & Culture, American Textile History Museum, Fuller Craft Museum, and at Governors’ Island in New York. During the past few years, through grants, Baronas has studied the history of the mill culture in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, resulting in The Mill Project, part of which is on display at Wistariahurst. Through the mixing of color, texture and pattern, fluid fabrics and music, her studies recreate the essence of a time and its inhabitants. Although this body of work is informed by history, and can support historical exploration, it stands on its own as a complete visual and physical experience.
Meet Deborah Baronas at the opening reception of Work and Culture / Into the Shade on Saturday, March 8 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Works on view through April. Admission to the gallery is $3/ members are free