June 3 - July 2, 2017

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 10, 5-8 PM


Van Vessem Gallery proudly announces its next offering: Evolve - Industry to Artistry by Deborah Baronas, on view through July 2. An opening reception will be held on June 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit is co-curated by artist Kristin Street and gallerist Marika Van Vessem. 

A former textile designer, Baronas’ work employs a diversity of matter —drawings, paint, glass and especially fabric— to study issues of labor and history. She depicts a variety of laborers (tobacco farmers, factory workers and, most recently, soldiers), commemorating their distinct-yet-shared struggles. Concept is allied with method in Baronas’ art; a respectful and inquisitive materialism vitalizes both.    

Formally, Baronas’ work often pursues elegant combinations of media to play with light, motion, transparency and tangibility. Scale can vary but Baronas is not afraid to go big (or long). This solo exhibit promises an almost panoramic view of Baronas’ career in both the commercial and artistic spheres. Visitors can see not only her materials but the ways they coalesce and fuse in the studio process. Standalone fabric designs nod toward the past then find their way into Baronas’ paintings. The fabric then enlarges to scrims overlaid with printed imagery or designs.   

Maquettes and samples of Baronas’ public art commission for the Bristol Veterans Home —the site of her current experiments— will also be displayed. As the viewer moves through the show, they move with Baronas in her investigations of labor. The speed of history and capital often threatens to elide workers and their efforts, but Baronas intends for their narratives to be seen and heard. 

Baronas has been commissioned by the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Rhode Island Veterans Home to create art installations in the newly constructed Rhode Island Veterans home in Bristol, RI.

Their consideration for the veteran community and generosity in providing subsidy for the inclusion of artwork in the home is a tribute to the veterans' service and a thank you for their sacrifices.

The opening of the home is predicted for the fall of 2017.

✨ Past reviews ✨
Art New England (Sept. 2016)
Newport Mercury (Jan. 2015)

Baronas’ superb draftsmanship is readily observed, with a looseness and spontaneity that tempers her thorough attitude toward process, which employs a variety of material interventions. Fabrics or etched glass, both with digitally-printed imagery, are laid atop her drawings and paintings. Baronas excels at depicting motion and might not need these accoutrements, though she finds they show “the transformation of a form.”

Baronas’ meticulous methodology mirrors the blue collar ethic she seeks to honor, and here she reiterates a crucial chapter in the saga of work: leisure. But even with her sights on play, Baronas never forgets the source from which it is squeezed: alienated labor, taxed from the proletariat by an oppressive (though historically specific) necessity.

— Alexander Castro, 
Art New England (Vol. 37, No. 5), Sept. 2016

Deborah Baronas studied textile design and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. Based on her own work experience and family heritage, she explores the condition of the American worker and landscape. She designs site specific installations that produce interactive environments with scrims, paintings, video, music and photography. Deborah worked as a textile designer and creative director in the Apparel Industry in New York City, Los Angeles and Europe working with designers and textile manufacturers in global fashion centers. Deborah now works as a design consultant and fine artist in Rhode Island. She lectures and exhibits at museums, galleries, universities, and textile companies throughout the United States and Mexico.