Artist Statement

“Stepping back from my work, I want the eye to be able to wander into it, travel to the back, no matter the image, and come all the way around again. I’m emerging with a slightly different palette - searching the skies and clouds and painting the endless depths, conveying the profound spiritual experience and sense of serenity I feel.”  

Barbara Gesshel has been inspired by nature since childhood and art is the vehicle that facilitated this connection. She was introduced to wood (printmaking) early as a child and felt the connection between line and space by following the lines of the wood. This introduction has helped define the core of her work. 

Gesshel continued studying Art receiving a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts), after which she traveled to Norway to study the woodcuts of Edvard Munch. She enrolled in the Royal Norwegian School of Arts and Crafts. The relationship between the intensity of light and color she experienced living in Norway transformed her art forever. As color began to fill Gesshel’s work, she became a painter.  

“There are elements of landscapes in all of my work: horizontal or vertical, still life, portrait, figure, trees or plants. The ebb and flow of water and waves is repeated in the lines and cracks of pebbles, the waving of branches and the lines of mountains.”  

Returning to the states, she shared her artistic career with raising a family, fulltime teaching and finally, marital separation. During this time, Gesshel worked in different communities as a Muralist, using her art to promote necessary social change and healing, particularly with the Anti-Graffiti Network in Philadelphia, PA, and post-Rodney King Riots in Los Angeles, CA, and again with The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. During this period, she primarily coordinated and painted murals based on the specific needs of each community. 

Today Gesshel's personal work shows a focus which is clearly her own and the patterns in her work follow the same movements regardless of image or medium.  Her work is evolving into sky and cloudscapes that present an almost tactile visual representation of limitless freedom and possibilities.

"Having spent most of my life bound to the land, feeling the pull of the earth and family and society, I’m now exploring the depths of the skies into which I've stared for inspiration for many years. The cloudscapes are a bit of a much larger mural image concept, conveying the sense of floating in or above the clouds, viewed from a plane window, helicopter or skydiving! ”