“I’ve discovered the polar bear as the primary character in my most personal language. The bear archetype has presented itself as an inspiration for spiritual vision to all cultures throughout history. Whether walking on the tundra or through my imagination, polar bears influence my life with a power that serves as a trustworthy guide.”
Barbara Stone has exclusively used the image of polar bears as a personal symbol in her artwork since 1979. Her research has taken her to Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Alaska to study the yearly migration of polar bears. She frequently visits Churchill, Manitoba and Iqualuit, Nunavut, Canada. There she is fondly known as “The Polar Bear Lady” and has been referred to as the originator of the “vegetarian polar bears.” Her involvement there includes a artist-in-residence programs, exhibits of her work and community story circles.
Barbara’s polar bear designs have been interpreted for use by the National Wildlife Federation, Audubon Society, Sierra Club and the Los Angeles Zoo. She is honored to be included in a collection, by invitation, of the White House, at the Smithsonian Institute and in that of the Empress of Japan in Tokyo, Japan. Her work reflects her impressions of travels; to Germany, Norway, Sweden, France Japan, Thailand and Nepal. More recent work has celebrated her farm lifestyle in the front range of Colorado.
In June of 1997, Barbara was featured in an ABC prime time TV special, “Arctic Terror”, which explored her experiences in the north. That same month she returned from her third art show in Japan where she represented Hospice and shared accounts of her friends and acquaintances who have found the symbol of the polar bear useful when grieving the loss of a loved one, facing life-threatening illness and as aid in pain management.
Barbara has also done the illustrations for a children’s book, In the Company of Bears, published in 1994, which, in early 1995, won the “Benjamin Franklin Award” for best “first published by new publisher” edition. She is currently developing stories inspired by accounts of people’s experiences with polar bears – often of a subjective or visionary nature.
Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Barbara moved to Colorado in 1971 and now lives in the grasslands of Northern Colorado. A self-taught artist, she has developed a unique style of incorporating colored pencil with watercolor in her paintings. She has explored many media with the polar bear image, including porcelain sculpture, fabric design for Japanese kimonos, water color paintings, wooden furniture forms, pen and ink and pencil drawings, and serigraph and lithograph prints. A barn studio at her Fox Friendly Farm is the home of current inspiration as well as her multi-species system of friend sheep, llama, geese, turkeys and chickens.
Catch one of her story circles if you can. These informal gatherings nurture story sharing and listening. Once seated In a circle of chairs participants are prompted to remember life experiences. With a few tips about structuring their narratives they are encouraged to share them to respectful listeners. These are most often held in coffee shops, or library rooms or adapted into day long creative workshops. Please contact Barbara if you would like to host a story circle or workshop.