When we meet Angie Barker, she’s dressed in in a drapy black tunic and long, flowing burgundy pants that mimic a skirt. Her wavy auburn hair is drawn up in a bun on top of her head, and a big tattoo (her favorite tattoo) of a rose graces her right thigh. Her art alias is “Angie the Rose,” which she describes as witchy and hippy-dippy, much like herself.
Angie grew up in Sylva, North Carolina and got her BFA in graphic design at Appalachian State. A few years ago, she and her husband moved to Greensboro, where she found a downtown home. 205 Collaborative offers private and shared working spaces for artists, and Angie has been painting there for five years now, sharing studio space with one other artist. Her art is very abstract, happy, and colorful. She paints with bright hues, but confesses you’ll always find her wearing dark colors. She likes exploring this duality in her work.
Angie squeezes creamy, vivid paint colors onto an antique enamel tray and swirls them around with a palette knife (the main tool she uses to paint with). It’s mesmerizing to watch. We sat down with Angie in her eclectic, sun-drenched studio, and chatted about molecules, Vincent Van Gogh, and true crime podcasts.
Q: What kind of art do you make?
A: I try to paint paintings that are inspired by the abstract expressionism movement, and that’s what I’ve done with the Molecular Series. It’s very abstract, and it’s just this creation of what I thought what my own personal artistic molecular biology looks like and how it flows and ebbs inside of myself. Everything’s a diary entry with this series, so it’s very emotional and very telling. I know each moment that I painted when I painted it. The other series I’m working on is the Regional Series, and it’s trying to pull that colorful rainbow palette into that series, but also make it an abstract landscape.
Q: How long have you been painting for?
A: I’ve been painting since I was eight years old. Even when I would go to school, if it was a painting day I would get so excited, because that’s how I learned. I’m a very hands on, tactile person.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I think it was hereditary. My grandmother came over with my grandfather after World War II, and they lived in Chicago. She was actually an illustrator for catalogues. Apparently on my father’s side there was some artistic ability. My mom knew I was an artistic little creature, so she got me all the paints and pencils and crayons, and she just helped grow that part of me.
Q: How would you describe your art?
A: Emotional, bright, colorful. I sometimes think it’s thought provoking because when you approach a piece, you can really see the depth of some of the layers. I think it’s powerful in the sense that it’s a part of my soul, and it’s a part of my life on the daily.
Q: What mediums do you use?
A: I use acrylic paint and archival ink.
Q: Tell us about the moment when you first knew you were an artist.
A: I think it was when I did the Black and Blue Series that I did about two years ago. I realized this is something I really need to commit to in my downtime, just because I’m a much better person when I’m making art. It’s a lot easier to deal with life issues if you can just be in front of something and throw paint at it.
Q: When you create, do you have a specific vision in mind, or does it happen organically? And if so, how close is the final product to your vision?
A: It happens organically, it’s super intuitive. A lot of artists will draw the canvas ideas they have. I tried that and it just wasn’t for me. I try to be a little more meditative when I create work and try to be in that moment.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I feel like sometimes my best works come when I’m stressed out. I listen to a lot of criminal podcasts. I also listen to SoundCloud, and there’s a lot of experimental mixers. It’s very atmospheric music, and that really sets the mood in here too. So my paintings are happy and bright, but a lot of it is just me working things out.
Q: Who are your favorite artists of all time, and why?
A: The first artist who grabbed my mind and melded it into being an artistic person was Vincent Van Gogh. In my childhood bedroom back home, the walls are painted yellow and the ceiling is painted that royal blue that he used. My favorite painting by him is called The Sower, and it’s this landscape painting of this man throwing seeds on the ground, and the sky is this vibrant neon I also love the abstract expressionist painters Lee Krasner, Robert Motherwell and Clifford Still. And there are also some women artists I follow on Instagram that inspire me — Elisa Gomez, Raven Roxanne, and Eva Magill Oliver. African textiles and Aboriginal Dreamtime are two things that really inspire my color palette.
Q: Are you currently working on a project, and do you have an idea for your next piece?
A: I’m working on the Regional Series. I love North Carolina so much and I think it’s kinda cool that we live in this cornucopia of landmass. We have mountains, we have hills, and we have the coastal plains. Right now I’m working on the mountain paintings and eventually I’m going to work on the Piedmont ones and the coastal plains.
I’m also working on the Molecular Series. When I became an aunt, I was all about feminism and science, and I wanted to create a series where my niece could figure out that science can be fun and that it’s not just a man’s field. I want her to feel empowered when she’s older, I want her to think “I can do anything.” That’s what jumpstarted it. Then I started reading a lot of scientific articles. There was one I read that was about when your heart experiences trauma, the little molecular cells send out a signal and tell the rest of the body to help repair them. It’s kinda cool that all these things are happening inside of us and we’re not doing a thing to instigate it. I love that hands off approach, and that’s why I like to think we have this macro universe inside of us, kind of like we’re made of stardust. I try to think take those big ideas and bring them back down to our reality, and go even further down and abstract the reality.
Q: How has your art evolved over time and how do you see it evolving?
A: I like to think that moving forward with my art I’m definitely finding myself happy with doing abstract work. I’ll still do illustrations just for fun. I like to tease my husband, “wouldn’t it be cool if I was a tattoo apprentice?” I love the way that art movement is going.
Q: What is your favorite thing about making art?
A: A part of me gets created that no one else has seen before. I like that a part of me gets put out into the world that’s not my physical form. It’s like music, but you actually get to see it. With music you can listen to it and look at notes, but art is just in your face. It is what it is.
Q: What piece(s) of work are you most proud of and why?
A: I like to say it’s “Ethos,” which is located at Vivid Interiors, here in Greensboro. That was basically the first child of the Molecular Series, and what really set the tone for what the series was going to look like.
Q: Are there any art mediums or techniques you haven’t experimented with yet that you’re curious to try?
A: I want to make cupcakes. There’s such an art scene with edibles right now. A bunch of women are creating these cupcakes inspired by succulents, so why not tap into that market? I’m actually trying to give up sugar right now, so the cupcake series is in the back of my head, but I really want to do it. I want to do natural dyes and try to be as natural as possible, so it’s this boutique-type of series where it’s really special and it doesn’t last that long. I also really want to get into film photography
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Reading: It’s hard to read things when you’re busy all the time. I listen to a lot of audiobooks.
Watching: I watch a lot of house shows, because I live in a 1920s house and I’m the handy one in the relationship.