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Kathryn Barker

I'm a visual artist and designer living and working in the Kansas City area. My most recent work is primarily in mixed media and often incorporates painting, photography, and encaustic to create narrative works. 

Regardless of the medium, much of my work is an exploration of the passage of time and transparency. They can be uncomfortable or challenging, since they are my way of working through hard truths. But, I despair cheerfully, and sometimes I just paint pretty flowers.

I work in a variety of mediums, all united by a passion for nature, both human and not, and a love of vibrant and evocative color.  The joy and challenge of creating depth of light and layers is the catalyst for my work. This juxtaposition of light and pigment captivates me and I find it endlessly challenging. Recent works combine oil pigments and wax, using encaustic methods. With these I can create translucent layers that provide a depth and luminosity unique to encaustic works.


My subjects are often landscapes, especially the rolling prairie and grasslands of the Kansas Flint Hills and I find the vastness of this singular landscape an ongoing inspiration. I spent my childhood in very rural settings and that connection with the natural world continues to give impetus to my work.


I can’t recall a time I wasn’t making art, but this early love of art did not lead directly to career making art. I graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Art Education and graduate studies in the university’s Book Arts program. Later, I completed a Master of Liberal Arts at Baker University and began working as an instructional designer. I was satisfied working in a creative field and enjoying my life, maybe a little complacently. Then I got a completely unexpected cancer diagnosis. In the midst of all the turmoil of treatment plans a thought struck me, ‘I don’t want to die without making art.’ I was stunned by how powerful that urge was, and I decided that as soon as I was well I was going to make art. No matter what. I can’t say that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me, but it was a very effective way of clarifying my priorities.


That realization several years ago compelled me to resume my art career. I sharpened my skills, attended classes and workshops, and participated in an artist cooperative. Since then, I have exhibited and sold my work at regional shows and exhibitions as well as at Images Art Gallery in Overland Park, KS. One of my paintings was featured on the Kansas City Art Institute Continuing Education brochure and website.


Vibrant, translucent color, and the harmony of light and pigment, are key to the mediums I choose. After beginning in watercolor and inks, I expanded to photography and encaustics. Digital images broaden my opportunities to explore narrative in exciting new ways. Combining photography or watercolor with encaustic alters the work to make it more dimensional and atmospheric. Wax literally adds depth to an image, and at the same time I strive to add emotional depth.


Whatever the medium, every work is a thoughtful exploration of time, truth, and transparency. People often comment about an immediate, gut-level connection with a piece. It’s not always comfortable, because my work can deal with loss on many levels. But, I cherish the opportunity to share that moment of connection.

Selected Shows & Exhibitions


Emergence, 80 Santa Fe Gallery, Overland Park, KS

Art Heals, InterUrban ArtHouse, Overland Park, KS

Member Show, Albrecht Kemper Museum of Art, St Joseph, MO



2022 Visions of the Flint Hills, Buttonwood ArtSpace, Kansas City, MO

Her Art/Their Art, InterUrban ArtHouse, Overland Park, KS



Life in Quarantine, Art at the Center, Overland Park, KS



Who Does She Think She Is? InterUrban ArtHouse, Overland Park, KS

Local Women in Art Invitational Exhibition, Art at the Center, Overland Park, KS



12x12 Show, InterUrban ArtHouse, Overland Park, KS

Member Showcase, InterUrban ArtHouse, Overland Park, KS



One Night Stand, Kansas City Artist Coalition,

Kansas City, MO



Kansas City Art Institute Continuing & Professional Studies Invitational Exhibition, Kansas City, MO



Kansas City Art Institute Continuing & Professional Studies Invitational Exhibition, Kansas City, MO



Kansas City Art Institute Continuing & Professional Studies Invitational Exhibition, Kansas City, MO

Related Experience

2017 -2021, member, Images Art Gallery, artist’s cooperative, Overland Park, KS

2018 - present, artist member, InterUrban ArtHouse, Overland Park, KS

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