Barbara Joann Combs, artist, art educator, community arts collaborator born in Los Angeles, California, has worked within the discipline of visual arts since childhood. Barbara holds a B.A. with distinction in visual arts from Fayetteville State University, North Carolina, exhibited in galleries, completed commissioned works and has a silkscreen mosaic acquired by a permanent collection in North Carolina. She was prompted to pursue a degree in community art after seven years of dialogue with teens wrestling with issues of self esteem, lacking direction and needing to discover their potential.
Awarded a MA and MFA in Community Arts with a Certificate in the College Teaching of Art from Maryland Institute College of Art, Barbara has worked with five communities facilitating quilt projects. Currently she works with children, teens and adults at the Goodnow Community Center. “I want to inspire people’s creativity, strengthen their self-esteem and help them find peace and joy through art that expresses their individual voice.”
The 2020 pandemic and racial tensions has brought virtual learning along with art making to the forefront. As an eductaor, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) has been part of my ongoing training and study through the Prince George's County Public Schools. 'Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.'1 I have learned to add moments of calming reflection to my lessons.
As a community artist, I am seeking ways to engage my community. Virtual Sip 'N Paint events through Zoom have worked well with adults. Family-centered virtual art activities are popular with the youth. It has been challenging but I am learning to adapt and adjust. As a community artist, I will continue to combine elements of both art education and art therapy to engage my community in creating art that helps them find a place of peace and joy.