Drawing from his early theatrical training, and influenced by historical methods of staged photography and constructed set design, Barry Underwood marks the landscape with LED lights, luminescent substances and other physical processes. Utilizing lustrous color and working with shapes, lines and light to point to the immutable traces that human interventions leave behind, Underwood seeks to reveal the unseen potential instilled in the landscape by staging a visual disruption in an otherwise familiar setting. What is so intriguing about Underwood’s work for art historian Paula Burleigh is that “the human presence is abstracted, rendered by light,” which highlights the “often tenuous relationship” between humans and their environment.
Underwood’s installation process, which uses actual structures and may take several days to complete, and his documentation, employing long exposure times to harness the area’s ambient light, rely just as much on the artist’s ability to harmoniously collaborate with nature as disrupt it. In the artist’s own words “This tension between the familiar and the surreal gives the images a strange power.” As a result of the interplay of the natural and unnatural, Underwood creates strikingly beautiful, otherworldly visuals enhancing awareness of environmental concerns.
Barry Underwood (b. 1963) received his Masters in Photography from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His photographs are made in various locations around North America, with many on artist residencies, including The Banff Center for the Arts (Canada), Teton Art Lab (WY), I-Park Foundation (CT), Headlands Center for the Arts (CA), The Center for Land Use Interpretation (UT), and The MacDowell Colony (NH).
His work can be found in the collections of The Akron Art Museum (OH), The Cleveland Museum of Art (OH), Elton John Photography Collection (Atlanta, GA), The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), TIAA-CREFF (NY), and the Rockefeller Family Art Collection (Petaluma, CA), among several others.
He has been awarded the Creative Workforce Fellowship through the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (OH), The Cleveland Arts Prize for Visual Arts (OH), and the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award (OH).
Select Commissions and Installations
2013 Cuyahoga, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH
2012 Horseshoe Lake, The City of Shaker Heights, Shaker Heights, OH (Organized through LAND Studio, Cleveland, OH)
Inside Out and From the Ground Up, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH