Barber lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  She was born in Oregon in 1941, and graduated from the Museum Art School, Portland, Oregon in 1963, where she received full scholarship.  She has studied with Louie Bunce, Michael Russo, George Johanson. Barber enjoys a national reputation for her figurative work but also paints compelling landscapes and abstracts. Using oil paint on linen, her strongly drawn figures are narrative in nature and stretched taut into richly patterned environments. Her figurative characters, frequently young women dressed or half-dressed in amusing outfits, are derived from imagined memory thus leaving everything to invention - including facial language, as important to Barber as body language. Barber paints quickly, keeping the brush moving over everything to sustain her access to these inner worlds.  She wants to prevent subconscious motives from escaping, from dilution by premature reflection.  In her paintings she captures the tension, bliss, confusion, sexual plots, plans, disorders, sorrow, whispers, naked resilience, passion, impudence and restlessness that smolders beneath us all.  Her art suggests our impatience for ecstasy.  She says, "I take it all as mine because it is no different than my own.”
Joan Barber