Delaware Days

Works by Joseph Barbaccia

June 9, 2023 - July 16, 2023

Ventures Gallery

“The medium is the message.” is a famous quote by Marshall McLuhan. Although in 1964 the Canadian philosopher was talking specifically about television, the same could be said about mediums/materials in the field of Art. I’m continuously excited about how a specific medium which is traditionally used in one genre can be expanded to a successful level in another. Altering the viewer’s expectations of a particular medium while exploring and extending the medium’s potential for artistic expression is why I do what I do. For example, in the past, polymer clay has been predominately used for jewelry. My past successful experiments creating sculpture utilizing sequins and Styrofoam assisted me in discovering the potential of creating with polymer clay to make more than earrings or necklaces. Inspired by the Impressionists, particularly Berthe Morisot, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam and Vincent Van Gogh, I founded my new work on this 19th century movement’s visible strokes of color. However, instead of oil-based pigments, I use plastic-based pigments in clay form. Extruded polymer clay. This medium afforded me a bas-relief depth to the finished piece. At the same time, with these pure color extrusions, I could weave a visual mixture that demonstrates subtle variations of color, form, texture, and light. Recently I’ve experimented with pushing the extruded colored clay pieces into one another using metal tools, to create an impasto like texture throughout the image.”

Joseph Barbaccia studied at Tyler School of Fine Art in Philadelphia. Barbaccia spent the following 8 years (1976- 84) traveling through the United States and South Pacific, concentrating on drawing and painting in a mostly representational style. In 1996, Barbaccia moved to Potomac Falls, VA. Over the next 4 years he began to paint with encaustics on carved plaster reliefs. With his “Animal Metaphors” series in 2000 and the 2002 “Santos” series, he fully evolved to freestanding sculpture, creating pieces that employed the act of wrapping and winding materials over a mixed media framework. In 2003,  Barbaccia’s art took another definitive step. By incorporating the most basic of materials in assemblies that underscore craftsmanship and meaning, he had pared down visual insight to a more essential level of expression.2008 saw Barbaccia’s work recognized in the Greater Washington Metro area as some of the most compelling by his becoming a finalist for the Trawick Prize. In 2014 he began to create with polymer clay. The resulting works are three dimensional in form; similar to bas reliefs. In 2018 Barbaccia moved to Delaware, USA. His images have been presented as covers and interior pieces for magazines, books, and more. In 2022, he was awarded the Individual Artist Fellowship Grant by the Delaware Division of the Arts. Barbaccia has written articles about his unique style for Polymer Arts magazine. His work has been featured in Luzer’s Archive 200 BEST Illustrators Worldwide, Illustration Annual 57, 3 X 3 Illustration Directory, Polymer Journeys (The Art and Craft of Polymer), Creative Quarterly, Illustration West 54, and the AOI World Illustration Awards.


Image Credit: “Gordon’s Pond” polymer clay by Joseph Barbaccia.