Senior artist profile series: Barrie Tovar ’15

Each year in May, The Colby Museum of Art hosts the Senior Art Show, an exhibition featuring works by senior students ranging in a variety of mediums, including photography, sculpture, printmaking and painting. In the weeks leading up to the opening, the Echo has featured each artist, showcasing their work and speaking to them about their personal inspirations and processes.

Barrie Tovar ’15, is a double major in American studies and studio art with a concentration in photography and, like many other Colby students, is a busy participant on campus. Still, she has had the additional challenge this year of exploring rural areas in Maine for her senior capstone photography project. When not in class, she works for admissions, participates in Colby Dancers, and does “the layout for a few of the publications on campus.” Aside from campus activities, Tovar interns “as a photo researcher for the website Bustle.”

Tovar’s work with Bustle is in line with her course-work in photography on campus. Throughout this past year, she has “been working in digital [photography] on a project called ‘Local,’ focusing on the spaces of small businesses and artisans in and around mid Maine.”

Many factors contribute to Tovar’s work in the photography studios. Both her hometown’s proximity to New York City and other talented artists have influenced her project. “Because of the proximity to the city, I am able to go to museums and galleries and see incredible work in person,” she said. “Where I’m from completely shaped my year long project because the suburb I’m from is very different than Waterville, and I’ve been able to explore surrounding cities and meet some of the people in them.”

Tovar explained, “My biggest source of inspiration is just looking at the work of super talented artists.” Elaborating on some of the artists she idolizes most, Tovar said, “Irving Penn is my absolute favorite, seeing his books when I was first getting into photography completely changed the way I took images. Some other photographers I love include Julia Margaret Cameron, Mario Testino, Jacques Henri Lartigue and Michael Friberg.”

Although much of Tovar’s work resembles still life photos rather than pictures of people, she has spent most of her photography career at Colby taking portraits. She said in an email correspondence that it was a fun experience to change it up this year. Still, as with any large project, there have been challenges. “Logistically, I ended up picking a project that forced me to drive to places, and I don’t actually have a car on campus,” she said. “Luckily for me, I have two absolutely awesome roommates who have given me free range over their cars. I try and pay them back in the food from the places I visit.”

Regarding challenges in the art making process, she explained, “I think trying not to get too frustrated is a big issue for me. Its important to remember that one bump isn’t necessarily the end of a project.”

Looking toward the future, Tovar hopes to work in the creative field, ideally in photography. “Thus far I am looking at jobs in production studios, in publishing and online sites that produce original content,” she said.

Come see Tovar’s art alongside the works of the seven other artists who are currently featured in the Senior Art Show at the Museum.

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