Art graduate Barton restores work for gallery show

Work by Ben Bridgers will be highlighted at Barton Art Galleries from 29 August to 7 October. Contributed photo

A series of paintings by North Carolina artist Ben Bridgers will open the fall semester in the Barton Art Galleries on the campus of Barton College. The “Solivagant” exhibition opens on August 29 and will run until October 7. On Thursday, September 9th, the Barton Art Galleries will host a reception from 5-7pm for “Solivagant”. At 6 p.m., an artist lecture will introduce Bridgers. This event is open to the public free of charge and the community is invited to attend.

“Solivagant, the title of the exhibition, means to wander alone – an apt description of the artistic process and a word that also speaks to the beauty and mystery of Bridgers’ paintings,” explains Maureen O’Neill, director of exhibitions. and educational programming for the Barton Art Galleries and assistant professor of art at Barton College. “The richly layered surfaces of oil paint, the echo of brushed lines that draw the eye in and around the canvases take the viewer on a journey. To experience a Ben Bridgers painting is to wander through wonderful, invented worlds of abstracted forms and characters in painted scenes. Bridgers’ works combine traditional oil painting techniques with images that reflect an observant eye. He is a collector of details from pop culture – music, city graphics, art history icons, skateboard parks – images that are later collected and drawn as part of his personal painted choreography. These large paintings of the artist’s private wanderings are intimate and true, painted with a masterly hand.”

A Coffee and Gallery Talk with O’Neill will be held from 4-5pm on Wednesday 14th and 28th September at the gallery.


After receiving a bachelor’s degree painting from Barton College in 1995, Bridgers traveled abroad to begin graduate work at the University of Georgia campus in Cortona, Italy. He went on to earn a master’s degree in painting and drawing from the University of Georgia’s Lamar Dodd School of Art in Athens in 1999.

Bridgers taught studio courses at the University of Georgia from 1996-2002, including a 2001 term at the University’s Study Abroad Program in Cortona. From 2002-2004, Bridgers taught as a visiting professor of art at the University of Wyoming in Laramie and later taught and directed the painting and drawing curriculum at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California, where he earned tenure as an associate professor. of art. .

He has maintained an active studio practice for the past 30 years and has exhibited his work in galleries and museums throughout the United States. Bridgers’ work is held in public and private collections throughout the United States, Italy, and Japan.

Currently, Bridgers works from his home studio in Durham and serves as the park collection and exhibits manager at the North Carolina Museum of Art.

“My painting practice involves time and the understanding that this curious alchemy—painting on brush, paint on canvas, paint on paint—continues to keep me anchored in the process,” said Bridgers. “In the studio where my head spins and my heart beats, I root in ideas and images from my experience. Themes include mind wandering, sensations noticed, feelings remembered – fleeting events that have shaken my sense of home – revealing loss, love and obsession. My work looks at both representation and non-representation, for a middle ground that is imagined and observed, felt and touched, drips and forms. The dark wells in my paintings are held open by hopeful threads from painting to painting, each revealing a new world to help create the next world and so on. The process, as Philip Guston said, “…seems like an impossibility, with only an occasional sign of its own light.”

For more information about this exhibit, please contact Maureen O’Neill at [email protected] or 252-399-6476.

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