Barbara Polster (b. 1987, Cleveland, OH) is an artist investigating themes of human limitation, wonder, and relationship to natural scale, primarily through sculpture, installation, and video. Recent solo exhibitions include: High Noon (Summit)_1 (2016), GLASSBOX gallery, Seattle, WA, a [super]symmetry (2014) and superposition (2013), William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, OH. In addition, she has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including exhibitions with Field Projects Gallery (NYC) at Satellite Miami, Punch Gallery (Seattle), A.I.R. Gallery (Brooklyn), and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was awarded the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Neznadny + Schwartz Visiting Curator Selection by João Ribas, Deputy Director & Senior Curator, Serralves. In 2016, she received a 4Culture Tech Specific Grant in support of the upcoming installation, Kodachrome Mirage. Currently, she is an instructor in the ASUW Experimental College. BFA 2010, Cleveland Institute of Art.

Personal Statement

I am an artist working primarily in sculpture, video, and installation. Most recently, my ideas have shifted slightly from a focus on human limitation as subject, itself, to an investigation of the experience of wonder or fear, which often times is most easily experienced beyond those perceived limits.

I develop work from the intersection where scientists research quantum physics, little boys dream of breathing underwater, and writers find room to articulate the smell of Mars. My interest, however, is quieter. Underneath the gleaming science fiction is the quietude of dreaming and desire, where formally and conceptually, the lyrical can be found between the logic of lines and systems. I borrow largely from an industrial vocabulary of utilitarian objects, layering them in such a way that they expose both their practicality and potential. Often combined with the natural landscape, inherently less under the control of man’s utility though participating in its own systems, scale, and practicalities, an indeterminate space is formed. This is the intellectual space where I build space elevators from construction hoists, I push glaciers to form landscapes instead of bulldozers, and shark cages become cardboard forts, hidden in the rainforest at the quietest place in America.

Other related studio considerations: natural scale, human scale - both temporal and physical, the sublime, Heidegger’s writings on poetry and language, Allora and Calzadilla, the manifestation of wonder in popular culture, theoretical physics, Guido van der Werve, industrial machines and utilitarian engineering, Piero Golia, Felix Gonzalez Torres, control over the formation of landscape, natural vocabulary, Pierre Huyghe, the writings of Borges/Calvino/Garcia Marquez


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Insitute.