Elizabeth Barrow

I began my journey as a fiber artist before I started kindergarten, stitching at my mother’s knee or crouched underneath her sewing machine. My mother and grandmothers taught me to sew, embroider, knit, quilt, crochet and needlepoint. For decades, I kept my hands busy with these pursuits, all the while thinking “art” was photography, painting and sculpture. I honed my skills, learning to sew my own clothes. I developed my vision, working in landscape design and constantly refining the appearance of my own home. 

Because I was committed to art and local artists, I established an art gallery inside my garden center. Even as I formed close relationships with my artist clients, I did not regard my stitchery as art. I sewed, but I worked on drawing, painting and collage as well. I had something to say and did not know how to say it.

It wasn’t until I closed the garden center and art gallery in 2013 that I began to grow in my confidence. I realized that I wanted to communicate a particular sense of my own world, and that my skills were concentrated in one particular medium: fiber.

In my work, I focus on hand-sewing and embellishment. I find inspiration in the everyday work of women past and present. I highlight the thread that unites us with each other, and with those that have gone before us. I return again and again to the idea of finding beauty in the quotidian, the tedious, the unsung. 

My series of medals called “Ordinary Valor” is a discussion on the merit and bravery of the individual human spirit and perhaps a gentle critique of the hero worship we lavish on the military and withhold from others who do valuable work. The medals are intended to recognize the beauty and brilliance of the everyday heroes in our everyday lives.