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Art & Home: Barry Underwood

Art & Home: Barry Underwood

Contemporary Artist: Barry Underwood

This week for Art & Home, I wanted to switch it up a bit and go with a contemporary artist. But I wanted to make it even more special for me, so I picked contemporary photography, an art medium that is close to my heart.

A few years back, when I was still in school studying photography, I visited the local museum for a class study project. Here is where I found the photographer Barry Underwood and his majestic landscapes.

Aurora (Green), 2007 Barry Underwood

Aurora (Green), 2007

I absolutely fell in love with his photographs. Light painting was becoming a big thing in contemporary photographs at this time, but Underwood’s work is exceptional. Instead of exclusively light painting in these scenes, he will create light installations using LED lights and other luminescent materials. The lights are very carefully placed in the scenes to create a staged photograph that enhances the natural landscape.

Trace (Yellow), 2008 Barry Underwood

Trace (Yellow), 2008

However, light painting is not a new concept in art. The first known usage of this lighting technique is in 1889, when Etienne-Jules Marey and George Demeny attached lightbulbs to an assistant and had him walk in front of the camera. Using a long shutter speed, they were able to capture the light as it moved. It wasn’t until the early 1940’s that this technique was known and appreciated by the world, thanks to the artist Gjon Mili. One of his most famous photographs was on the cover of Life magazine. Mili attached little lights to the boots of ice skater Carol Lynne and captured the ephemeral path the light created as it swirled and danced across the ice.

Figure Skater Carol Lynne, 1940 Gjon Mili

Figure Skater Carol Lynne, 1940

Even though this technique is very old, Underwood is breathing new life into it with his landscape collection, Scenes. Despite using modern lighting technology, he still uses color film and a medium format camera to capture his images. Underwood explains his art thusly,

In the final prints, lights and sculptural alterations appear as intrusions into the landscape imagery. The tension between the familiar bucolic setting and the surreal abstract mark gives the images a strange power.

Underwood has his artwork shown all across the United States. He is currently showing his artwork at the Akron Art Museum in their collective exhibition titled, Altered Landscapes. This exhibition is running until July 12, 2015. His artwork is represented by the Sous Les Etoiles Gallery in New York, NY.

If you would like to learn more about Barry Underwood and his artwork, you can visit his website or Facebook page.

Inspired by Barry Underwood

The main theme I want to play up here is lighting. Lighting is key in photography, and one of the subject matters in Underwood’s photography. Lights are an underplayed accessory in rooms, but it can create a mood that really makes a house or a room feel like home.

Barry Underwood Inspired Rooms

String lights, also known as fairy lights, are becoming really popular in decorating. They add a whimsical mood to the room they are in. Really express your inner Underwood by bringing in twigs and branches to make a mock chandelier or canopy for your bed. Use them to light up a dark hallway and enchant guests as they enter your home.

Barry Underwood Decor Accessories

There are plenty of ways to use string lights in your home. Decorate an old vintage mirror and put it in a dark corner of your bedroom. Use rope lights to write our a word for some DIY wall art, turn out the lights and watch it become the center of your room. For a table-top display, put some fairy lights in a glass-case lantern, birdcage, or bowl. My personal favorite though? A branch chandelier!  Underwood’s eye-grabbing pictures can become a reality in your home with the right mood lighting and accessories.

Best of all? The quiet, peacefulness that is created when you bring mood lighting into your home. Enjoy.

Interested in seeing your favorite artist? Have a favorite art style that you’d like to see a room designed around? Let me know in the comments below!


About Ashley Tolfo

Ashley Tolfo
Ashley is the Product Manager and Photographer at Bestlaminate. She can usually be found photographing all of the floors for the website, or being a code monkey at her desk. When not in the office, she is maintaining her own photography business, playing with her cats, watching movies/shows, or doing yoga or running. If you have any specific questions for Ashley, you can contact her at

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