I am interested in close looking, and examining how parts come together to create a whole.

My paintings are primarily about memory and place. I draw imagery from a wide range of source material—such as the view from a hotel room or moving car, collected objects and photographs—and use varying degrees of abstraction to suggest fleeting impressions from observation and memory. I organize these paintings in large grids with the intention of creating unexpected connections between visual records of places near and far, past and present. This practice explores the patterns, landmarks, symbols, and colors that we use as markers to catalog visual experience, and gestures to the overabundance of visual stimuli that we daily sift through and assign meaning to in order to form a worldview.

My work has always been influenced by textiles; I often take cues from the design, pattern, and texture of fabric both when composing my paintings and when arranging grid installations. Recently I’ve embarked on a new project titled WAX PAPER THREAD, a series of sewn drawings and digital prints that has built on my love of textiles, deepened my relationship with encaustic, and pushed my study of abstraction in a new direction. While I typically use a variety of techniques to control the behavior of the wax medium in my painting practice, these new works on paper relinquish some of that control, embracing and taking direction from the spontaneity of the encaustic in its molten state. To make these pieces, I encourage the wax to run and mix on a heated palette, then lift the paint with a sheet of paper to create a monoprint. Drawing with thread is a way to respond to the materiality of the wax-coated paper and examine the behavior of the paint. The digital prints in WAX PAPER THREAD are made by scanning and enlarging the sewn drawings, which allows a different kind of viewing and reveals new details about how the paint pooled, merged, and mixed in its fluid state. Together the contrasting textures of wax, paper, and thread create a layered, abstract topography.


Barbara Ellmann was born in Michigan and lives in New York, where she works as an artist in painting, drawing, and mixed media. She has been selected for residencies at Yaddo, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Haslla Art World Museum in Gangneung, South Korea, and Baer Art Center in Iceland. She has also produced public works for the MTA; the City of Summit, NJ; and the Queens Public Library. Ellmann co-founded the New York Artists Circle (NYAC), a mutual support group for professional artists that now has over 500 members, and served as the group’s director from 1996-2015. She currently works as an educator at the Whitney Museum and Lincoln Center Education, and has also taught at the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, as well as museums around the country and the world.



2021     WHERE WE’VE BEEN AND WHERE WE ARE, Lobby Level Gallery, 630 Flushing Ave, Brooklyn, NY

2019     SO HERE SO THERE, Hampden Gallery, UMass Amherst, MA

2016     AN OPEN BOOK 2, Marks Art Center Gallery, Palm Springs, CA

2014     AN OPEN BOOK, Richmond Center Gallery, Kalamazoo, MI

2011       GAME BOARDS, Haslla Art World Museum, Jeongdongjin, Gang-Neung Si, South Korea

2010     WHAT I SAW: Paintings from the Hermitage, Gulf Coast, Florida, Tomasulo Gallery, Union County College, Cranford, NJ

2010     FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND OTHER ABSTRACTIONS, Ruth S. Harley University Gallery at Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

2010     FOREIGN AFFAIRS, The Gallery at R&F, Kingston, NY

2002       Game Boards, 80 Washington Square East, NYC, NY

1997       Game Boards, The Gallery at R&F, Kingston, NY

1992       New Horse Work, Winkler Galleries, Sutter Creek, CA

1986       Horses, Elan Gallery, Bismarck, ND

1982       Hanky Collages and Altar Constructions, Mythology, NYC, NY

1980       Two Cows, Harriman College, Harriman, NY



2022     Uncommon Threads, Huntington Arts Council, Huntington, NY

2021      Pattern and Repetition, Site:Brooklyn, online exhibit

2021     Time Passes, Memory Fades; Jason McCoy Gallery, NYC, online virtual exhibit

2021     OUAGADOUGOU 2021, U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; part of Art in Embassies Program, U.S. Department of State

2019       A Universal Feeling, part of Reveal/Conceal at Chehalem Cultural Center, Newberg, OR

2012       Super Saturated: Pigment and Pattern, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY

2012       Textility, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ

2011       Encaustic with a Textile Sensibility, Kimball Art Center, Park City, UT

2010       LIC Grid, Acumen Capital Partners, Long Island City, NY

2007      Art Bars, Ithaca Fine Chocolate, Ithaca, NY

2006      Fragments, Water Street Gallery, Saugatuck, MI

2005      Wax: Encaustic Techniques in Contemporary Art, Brush Art Gallery, Lowell, MA

2005      Color and Form, Water Street Gallery, Saugatuck, MI

2005      Intimate Abstraction, Valencia Community College, Orlando, FL

2004       Drawn to the Present, Pace University Gallery, Pleasantville, NY

2004       Pattern Into Pattern, New York Law School, NYC, NY

2003       Surface, Matter, & Artifice, Dutchess Community College Art Gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY

2002       4 Square, Gallery Korea, NYC, NY

2002       Print 2002, 354 Exhibitions, Brooklyn, NY

2001       Over Times Squared, Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC, NY

2001       Encaustic, Encaustic…, Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago, IL

2000       Contemporary Mandalas, The Discovery Museum, Bridgeport, CT

2000       New Artists, Lead Gallery, Seattle, WA

1999       Encaustic Works 1999, Watermark/Cargo Gallery, Kingston, NY

1999       Game Show, The Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA

1999       Summer Exhibition, The Painting Center, NYC, NY

1999       Waxing Poetic: Encaustic Art in America, The Montclair Art Museum and traveling to Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN

1999       Cross Purposes, Korn Gallery, Drew University, Madison, NJ

1998       Art as Spectacle, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY

1998       Pet Shop, Nicholas Davies Gallery, NYC, NY

1997       Contemporary Visions, University of Bridgeport, Bridgeport, CT

1993       A-Z, 0-9, ES Vandam, NYC, NY

1991       Faith Nightingale Gallery, San Diego, CA

1991       Winkler Galleries, Sutter Creek, CA

1990       Cowboy Bob, Winkler Galleries, Sutter Creek, CA

1990       Faith Nightingale Gallery, San Diego, CA

1987       Santa Fe Institute of Fine Art, Santa Fe, NM

1987       Hudson Gallery, NYC, NY

1987       Animals ‘R Us, Kraine Club Gallery, NYC, NY

1986      Artist Books Invitational, Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA

1984       Image Pilgrimage, The Court Gallery, NYC, NY

1982       Mixed Bag, Alternative Museum, NYC, NY

1981       Re: Pages, New England for the Arts Touring Exhibition, RI, MA, CT, NH

1980       10 Downtown, NYC, NY


2006       THE VIEW FROM HERE, 7 faceted glass windscreens commissioned by the NYC MTA’s Arts For Transit Program for the elevated Van Siclen Avenue Station on the Jamaica Line in Brooklyn, NY. Fabricated by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass   Installed 2007.

2004       WHILE WAITING, Two faceted glass windows 4’ x 4’ for a bus shelter in Summit, NJ. Commissioned by the City of Summit. Fabricated by Willet Hauser Architectural Glass. Installed March 2006.

2003       ALL THE THINGS YOU ARE, 55 encaustic paintings 10’x 48’ installed in the Cambria Heights Branch Library, Cambria Heights, NY. Commissioned by NYC’s Department of Cultural Affairs Percent For Art Program, The Queens Borough Public Library, and NYC’s Department of Design and Construction. Kostow Greenwood Architects. Installed April 2006.


2022     Residency, Baer Art Center, Hofsós, Iceland

2019     Panelist, “Personal Transformation Through Art,” UCAE Conference: Global Perspectives on Art and Education

2014     Exemplary Teaching Artist Award, NYU Forum on the Teaching Artist, New York, NY

2011      International Artist Symposium and Residency, Haslla Art World Museum, Jeongdongjin, Gang-Neung Si, South Korea

2010     Residency, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, Englewood, FL

2010     Visiting Artist, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

2009     Visiting Artist, St. Johns University, Queens, NY

2008     Panelist, Percent for Art, Department of Cultural Affairs, New York, NY

2008     Visiting Artist, St. Johns University, Queens, NY

2008     Visiting Artist, R & F Handmade Paints, Kingston, NY

2007    Visiting Artist, St. Johns University, Queens, NY

2005     Slide Lecture, School of Visual Art, New York, NY

2004     Slide Lecture, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, NY

2004     Slide Lecture, School of Visual Art, New York, NY

1999     Gallery Talk, The Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA

1998     Juror’s Award – Thema Golden, Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY

1986     Slide Lecture, Elan Gallery, Bismarck, ND

1983     Residency, Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY



1980-present   Lincoln Center Education Teaching Artist Faculty, including summer session training of teachers in aesthetic education, artist orientation and training of artists, and the structuring and teaching of units of study in over 200 partnership and focus schools.

1981-present   Training of teaching artists in Mexico City, Mexico; Hong Kong, China; Seoul, South Korea; Singapore; Palm Desert and Berkeley, CA; Kalamazoo, MI; Sante Fe, NM; Aspen, CO; Lincoln, NE; Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis, TN; Newark, DE. Consultancies in OK, LA, MI, IL, SC, NM, CA

1997-present   Teaching Artist Faculty in the Higher Education Collaborative at Lincoln Center Education, working with professor partners in the school of education at Bank Street, CCNY, Lehman College, St Johns University, Queens College, Brooklyn College, Hunter College and Stern College

2000-2020  MoMA Lecturer and Workshop Facilitator, Family Programs

2015-present   The Whitney Museum of American Art Lecturer and Workshop Facilitator, School and Family Programs 


Acumen Capital Partners, LLC
Leonard Nimoy
United States Embassy, Kampala, Uganda
Peter J. Sharp Foundation
Centre Solutions, Bermuda
Judge Alan C. Marin
Banner Estrella Medical Center, AZ
Walter Scheuer
Peter Norton
Four Seasons Hotel and Resort, Marrakech, Morocco
Queens Borough Public Library
Haslla Art World Museum, South Korea
New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority
City of Summit, NJ
NYU Langone Medical Center
Yale Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library


School of Visual Arts, 1980-84
University of Michigan, 1968-69

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