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Barbara Trachtenberg 
ReBirth of a Nation 

I am a self-taught painter who also makes collages and assemblages. I love color. My work and training in psychology and cultures influence my thinking about a piece I’m working as figures and symbols emerge. Process is key to my relationship with a work—I sweep strokes, connect disparate elements, adding viscosity, impasto, texture, shape and color. Revising old work, playing with accidental composition, I work messy—tearing, painting without gloves, using what’s at hand. Transience, impermanence, decay and joy, disorder and letting go are embedded in the piece. I’m spontaneous, emotional, sensory. I use strong colors and old broken things, and if figures emerge, I dialogue with aspects of myself—listening, sniffing, watching. Working with bold strokes, automatic gestures and texture, found, used, worn items, refuse from the process itself are my physical relationship with my work.

Non-traditional beauty, made to music and movement, through color and juxtaposition of shapes, reflect Boston’s urban push. A vital and vulgar American life reflects my aging and energy. I hike among fragments of nature where random configurations inspire me. Working spontaneously, without plan, I paint visceral and viscous. My process acknowledges there’s no answer to anything, really—life is suffering and joy, confusion and clarity, rife with contradictions. Aging, decay, letting go, from old age to childhood and back.

Energy and battling emotions, movement and spontaneity push rich color and texture from that first mark. Imagery and characters emerge in the abstract. A daughter of Hungarian and Russian immigrants, I was a teacher for severely handicapped children, a school psychologist and a professor of applied linguistics. I interviewed single Central American refugee mothers of the mid 1980s about their strategies of acculturating and now volunteer with Boston area refugee organizations. An international street photographer since the early 1980s, I have had solo shows in Havana, Cuba, Cambridge, Boston, and rural France. My work has moved exclusively to mixed media painting exhibited in solo, small and group shows throughout Greater Boston. I have a doctorate in literacy, language and cultural studies and masters degrees in education and psychology. I am a MacDowell Colony Fellow, currently a Regional Liaison. I work in my studio at The Mill Contemporary Art: Gallery and Studios in Framingham, Massachusetts. 

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