Barbara Thompson's interest in ceramics began as a graduate student researching hand-built African and Native North American pottery. After receiving a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Iowa, Barbara continued her research of indigenous ceramics, for which she became well known throughout her academic career.
As curator of African, Native American, and Oceanic arts at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College and the Cantor Art Center, Stanford University, Barbara conducted original research on global art traditions and organized over 40 exhibitions, often focusing on the crossover between historical and contemporary art forms, including in ceramic traditions and inventions worldwide. Her love of the simple yet sensuous form of the ceramic vessel is deeply engrained in its significance in cultures throughout the world, often referring to notions of life, womanhood, fertility, and healing.
Ever attracted to the medium of clay, Barbara dabbled in hand-built pottery following graduate school but it was not until 2009, when she tried her hand at wheel-thrown pottery, that she quickly became enamored with pottery making as a meditational practice. She has been throwing since on a regular basis, influenced by the techniques and styles of the Tanzanian living treasure and master potter, Namsifueli Nyeki; the world-renowned Kenyan ceramic artist, Magdalene Odundo; her pottery mentors, Joe Battiato and Hsin-Chuen Lin in San Jose, California and—since returning to her birthplace in Hawai'i in 2014—O'ahu's own Jeff Chang, Daven Hee, Steve Martin, Ken Kang, and the community of ceramic artists at Hawai'i Potter's Guild.
Today, Barbara works as an independent art scholar, curator, and consultant. She is on the Hawai'i Craftsmen Board of Directors and currently is Chair of Annual Statewide Juried Exhibition. She lives in the hills of Pupukea, surrounded by the sweeping ocean and mountain views of O'ahu's North Shore, where the vivid tonalities of color, light, and textures inspire her glazing styles. She captures fleeting impressions left upon her psyche by the ever-changing island environment and memories of her life and travels abroad.
Since 2012, Barbara has exhibited her ceramics in group and solo shows at galleries in California and Hawaii. To see more of her work, visit Barbara's website at www.bthompsonphd.wix.com/huhonua.