While rummaging through piles of porcelain heads, piecing together buttons with bones and constructing fantastical, larger-than-life characters from the musical instruments once suspended from her studio ceiling, Barbara McIntyre transforms everyday forms into inventive structures that house a plethora of knickknacks. A lover of found objects, collector of leftovers and producer of stories, Barbara’s mixed-media assemblage sculptures transport us to playful scenes bordering on surreal. Whether a group of bottles sits in place of a woman’s torso, porcelain feet stand in for hair, or a group of vintage keys is spun into an old croquet ball: imagination, irreverence, and whimsy are always present.
McIntyre constructs a setting or a series of relationships from detritus, carefully composing each object, whether trash or treasure, into its rightful place. Many pieces reference the human or animal body with “stand-ins” for the head, the body (or vessel) and extending limbs. The stream-of-consciousness manner in which she works allows the meaning of each piece to unfold through her manipulation of each disparate part. For McIntyre, the process of construction sets the story of a piece into motion, but the open narrative is always left hinging on the brink of climax so others may enjoy filling in the blank.
The materials arranged in McIntyre’s work range from her extensive personal collections accumulated over decades, to the gifts from her mother’s collections after her death. Other objects have been acquired through chance (found or abandoned) or choice (purchased). They are stacked around the studio awaiting insertion into a collage, assemblage or freestanding sculpture. An innate attraction toward found objects persists as McIntyre’s work, built from broken and damaged porcelain doll heads, furniture legs, printer’s metal type settings, and buttons and bones, continues to speak through her inventive hands.
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