The Mountain Times

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Making something new

Barbara McKenna is on the Killington Arts Guild's Board of Directors and works on publicity. For a KAG Gallery reception a couple years ago she made table centerpieces-little wooden birdhouses with artificial flowers around them, and moss and white doves on the roofs which delighted everyone. So did her first exhibit at the gallery - Noah's Bark - an ark with carved dogs.

Barbara inherited her artistic talents from her grandmothers. One made clothing. After seeing what was in the stores she reproduced the same thing for herself. The other painted and crocheted, and both did handiwork.

She learned to sew in 5th and 6th grade, in an elementary school in Pennsylvania where all the children used treadle sewing machines and learned to cook.

Recognizing that Barbara had talents, her mother asked the art teacher if she should take lessons. That wise teacher told her no, just to let her find her own way. After high school Barbara went to two art schools, graduated and worked as a colorist for a decorating fabric company in New York City.

She married, had two kids, and began antique painting of mini-dollhouse furniture for a man who made the furniture. Then, began cutting out and painting wooden figures of farm animals and people and sold them through a sales representative. She moved on to folk art painting, then woolen pillows which were commissioned for the Artisan's Gallery on Center Street.

Barbara says, "I like to use antique patterns as a starting point and take elements from them to make something new and am inspired by people who live on an island in Central America who do reverse applique called Mola."

She does sewing and rug hooking demonstrations at Arts & Antiques. Her work is on display there, and in the KAG Gallery where she has two "posters" taken from old instructive pieces: "Recipe for Washing Clothes" showing a woman and her helpers doing laundry; and "Hints For Happy Motoring", tell how they fixed cars in the early 1900's. The third piece is the "Adirondark" a miniature ark built in the old Adirondack style, with animals that live in the mountains and Noah and his family. The decks lift so you can see the insides. All three pieces are delightful and in the current show, "Art and Soul" that runs until November 17. For more see:

Tagged: Killington Arts Guild, Making something new