The Paintings: Vivid architectural scenes—reflective dreamlike spaces, color and light, uniting and distinguishing appearances; urban architecture as dramatic and psychological metaphors for the human condition is the basis of her work. Her scenes of the small, southern, factory town she taught in ask viewers to reflect on several levels. There are no people in her paintings. The buildings are devoid of architectural details. What is left for the viewer to contemplate is the relationship between things: the spacing of houses, the distinction between front street and back streets, facades again back alleys, and against all earth, trees and sky. Currently, her scenes include images of the churches found in the town. The spaces between these buildings form a visual question, she says, “about our relationship to the religious intuitions that influence our communities and our lives.”
Crawford describes her work in her own words:
Lately, I have come to think of light more and more in relation to its complement, darkness, shade. Through the relation of these two things, one grasps not only forms, but also space and time. The vividness of what is grasped invites contemplation of life’s energies and processes, of transformation and change, of presence and absence, of clear vision and uncertain memory.
The Louvre: As part of a mission to incorporate more contemporary art into the Louvre’s permanent collection, internationally acclaimed artist Cy Twombly, W&L Class of 1953, was asked to create a painting to cover the ceiling of one of its galleries, the Salle de Bronzes. He enlisted the aid of Lexington, Va., artist and SVU professor Barbara Crawford and her role in the project grew from mixing paint colors to representing Twombly during the creation and installation of the final piece in the Paris museum. Twombly is one of only three contemporary artists to receive this honor and the only American.