“The job of the artist is to deepen the mystery” — Francis Bacon

Barbara Flaherty taught drawing, painting, design, and printmaking at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California from 1985 - 2005. She grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, earned a B.A. in Art from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a Masters in Painting from U.C. Davis where she studied under Wayne Thiebaud and William T. Wiley.

I found my way to University of the Pacific by water. A year or so after grad school I met a guy who made great gardens, and boats too. He found us a spot on the Calaveras River that has provided the anchor that has kept me from falling off the planet. The Riverbank of Dreams, our landlord called it, and so it has proven. It is a very real place as well as a magical oasis. We were a part of it for 30 years or so. We lived lightly there, breathing with the winds, rocked by the movement of the water. We were family members with the birds and beasts both tame and wild, our time marked by weather and season. We raised children there, buried pets, created art and gardens, swam, rowed, and sailed. We weathered angry agencies, life-style critics and potential buyers. We laughed, cried, and said “hello” and “good-bye” a million times. The scent and texture of the place has fleshed out our sense of wholeness and of belonging to the earth.”

A number of study grants facilitated travel in Greece and Ireland, two locations that have influenced her work. She also led summer workshops and classes in Greece for artists and university students.

Influences on Barbara’s painting concepts and methods include her long time friend and fellow painter, Ellen Van Fleet and her graduate professor, William T. Wiley. Wiley, in one of his personas, Swami Beyondananda, says:

“If you’re looking for the key to the Universe, I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is there is no key to the Universe. The good news is it has been left unlocked.”

Barbara has always viewed art making as an educational gambit for learning about oneself and the world – exploring, engaging, an on-going inquiry through both subjective and objective filters – rather than adding to the mammoth repository of object d’art. For her, art making is visual poetry in the way Northrop Frye describes:

“Poetic thinking, being mythical, does not distinguish or create antithesis: it goes on and on, linking analogy to analogy, identity to identity, and containing, without trying to refute, all oppositions and objections. This means, not that it is merely facile or liquid thinking without form, but that it is the dialectic of love: it treats whatever it encounters as another form of itself.”