Debbie Barrett-Jones and her husband, Brandon, left their small town in Iowa so Debbie could pursue an education at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI). Since graduating from KCAI with a B.F.A. in Textiles, Debbie Barrett-Jones has exhibited her work throughout the United States. Along with weaving large-scale pieces for homes, businesses, and sanctuaries (including three-panel commission at Children’s Mercy Hospital, Truman Medical Center and one six-panel commission for a church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright); she also creates small, intimate pieces such as scarves and shawls. With each weaving, careful consideration goes into color, composition and material. Because color is such an inspiration, Debbie uses carefully calculated hand-dyes on all her fabrics.
Most pieces employ the process of color mixing and percentage-gradation dyeing. Each woven panel reveals the beautiful communication that passes between one color thread intersecting another. Her panels comprised vibrating colors and elegant patterns, narratives in flux according to one’s proximity to each piece.
Currently Barrett-Jones continues to live in Kansas City with her husband and two young daughters. Working from her studio at home and daily trying to find the balance between motherhood and being an artist is both the hardest thing she has done, yet most fulfilling. She would have it no other way, cherishing her time in the studio.
"Weaving is an art that emphasizes process. Each of my woven pieces represents the tension between control and happenstance during the process. From the start of a project – drawing out the plans, drafting the pattern, dyeing yarn using a color-mixing and percentage-gradation process - my woven panels reveal not only the communication that passes between one color thread intersecting another, but shows the range of control in both the complete and deconstructed. My ultimate goal is to let the viewer see not just the complete, clean finished project but give the viewer a glimpse of the pre-weaving process, much of which can be painstakingly tedious. However, this attention to detail is equally essential to the actual work on the loom.
Harmony is the key element in my artwork and can be defined as the pleasing arrangements of parts that bring an inner sense of order. In my weavings these pleasing arrangements are brought out in a gradation of color, pattern, spacing, scale and composition. I deal with high levels of anxiety in my life and can easily get distracted and overwhelmed with worries and the chaos of a busy life. It can be hard to take the time to slow down and allow myself to enjoy a calming moment. I personally find that calming moment at my loom. The meditative rhythmic sound, along with seeing how color interacts with each other, as each colored thread that is added to a woven fabric, is calming, therapeutic and rewarding. The goal in creating my art is to be able to give my viewer and myself the opportunity to have time to slow down and breath, being stimulated by visual art that is pleasing to the eye and peaceful to the mind."