Barbara Satterfield’s career in the arts spans 40 years in Conway and includes teaching creative dramatics for its first community arts association, working in public schools through the Artist-in-Education program of the Arkansas Arts Council, founding and directing a non-profit children’s arts program (The Art Station), and serving as Director of the Baum Gallery of Fine Art at the University of Central Arkansas and Lecturer for the UCA Department of Art in Conway, Arkansas. Since retirement, Satterfield has reconnected with studio production and produced three series of ceramic work. Her figurative series, And then, I: Monuments to Pivotal Moments, is currently touring public spaces in Arkansas towns with assistance from a grant award sponsored by the Mid-America Arts Alliance (www.andtheni.com). Her vessel series, Found Object Sculptures, has been selected for competitive exhibition, has garnered awards, and is privately collected (www.barbarasatterfield.com). Satterfield has utilized her ten years of professional museum experience by creating BarbaraB: Exhibit Development and Design, a consulting business to assist artists and organizations with project visioning, exhibit and grant writing, programming, and project management. She is responsible for organizing the two-year tour of Arkansas Champion Trees: An Artist’s Journey for travel, for authoring its state and private grant funding, for creating the content for the exhibit materials and website, and for visioning and managing the educational outreach component Growing Champion Classrooms. Satterfield is a Fellow of Artist Inc, Argenta, and her arts community service includes executive board membership on the Arkansas Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Committee of One Hundred to Benefit the Ozark Folk Center State Park, and a board membership with the Thea Foundation.
Feathered Nest, Ceramic Sculpture, 15.5'"H x 13.5"W x 12.5"D
Why art? There are lots of things you can do in life, why did making art grab you and not let go?
I’m a maker: if it’s not art, it is something else. The act of being physically engaged with materials to create something with my hands—even cooking--is second nature to me and expressive of my energy level.
If you could say there is one thing that drives your creative process, what would that be?
The interplay of observation and research with play: really good productive play with materials.
Most artists have some idea of where they are going with their work while they are creating it. However, there is always the aspect that the viewer will project their own ideas and experiences onto the work when they see it. Do you feel that you, in a sense, lose some control of the work once it is released into the wild? Is this bothersome to you?
I am as interested in what the viewer brings to my art work as I am about my own perspective—which sometimes changes with time. Once I’ve made a piece, I want to show, share, and sell it: it’s not finished until I do.
What role do you see the artist playing in a community?
I have chosen an advocacy role: serving on state boards and organizations that value the arts, and working with arts organizations to fundraise for artists and arts programming.
Any ambitious or exciting projects on the horizon for you? What’s new in your career that you’re excited about and looking forward to?
Dedicating myself to full-time studio work is new: I’m excited about ongoing and regular production of series that explore a variety of concepts.
Do you have a preferred medium that you use, and why does it just click with you when you create?
Clay is my preferred medium and I prefer full-on 3D construction. I like the smell, feel, and responsiveness of clay. I appreciate its memory, transformative nature, and fragility. It’s beautifully complicated and deceptively simple at the same time.
Did you ever have that “aha!” life-changing moment with a piece of art in your formative years? What was it and how did it affect you?
At the age of 8, I saw a sculpture by Frederick Remington on the Hendrix College campus where my father was a professor. I was captivated by the three-dimensions. I began hanging out in the art section of our county library. It was a special thrill to cast bronze as part of my BFA program of study.
What is your biggest thrill at the opening reception for a show of your work?
My biggest thrill is visiting with people about art. I enjoy engaging with viewers, exchanging observations and opinions: that discussion is, for me, the use value of art—which is as important, for me, as the market value.
Where a piece of art is displayed can have an effect on how it is perceived. Have you ever placed a work somewhere, stepped back, and all the sudden realize, wow this is different now? If so, what was that like for you?
Originally having been a theatre major, and then an art gallery director, I imagine every vessel or figure I make in “presentation” mode: with key, back, and fill lighting. It’s good to let go of that reverential context on occasion and see if a piece stands up and holds its own in public spaces with general lighting. If it does, I say more than “Wow.”!
Sometimes artists feel that their studio is something of a sacred place to them. It can be very personal for them, and allowing others in can make them uncomfortable. Is your studio like this? How do you see your studio or workspace?
My workspace is a workshop. I like to have it to myself while I’m developing ideas and creating work; however, I love scheduled visits and appreciate opportunities to have conversations about what I’m making.
Thank you Barbara! These are great insights!