Laura Anderson Barbata

Born in Mexico City and based in New York, Laura Anderson Barbata was an Artist-in-Residence at the Gardner in 2016. During her residency, Barbata explored her passion for fabrics and textiles, producing a series of dresses, skirts, scarves, and necklaces inspired by the elaborate patterns seen on the walls of the Raphael Room and her project, Intervention: Raphael Red. Barbata’s residency overlapped with the renovation of the Raphael Room, one of the Museum’s finest examples of textile restoration. Barbata noted that she wanted to bring attention to what lies beneath the paintings: that there is not just one shade of red and one pattern, but dozens of shades and textures, and over 50 different patterns woven on to these exquisite silks. Said Barbata about the gallery, “The play of patterns and paintings gives the Raphael Room a powerful presence and provides a moving experience that cannot be duplicated.” This careful interplay of art and textile also prompted Barbara to consider the importance of looking at what is behind what we see at first glance, and to acknowledge all the labor, care and attention that often is overlooked as we focus primarily on master paintings. 

The resulting pieces are meant to celebrate and highlight the oft-overlooked, yet extraordinary textiles covering the walls of the Raphael Room. The dresses and scarves in this collection are hand-made and one-of-a-kind. They are cut, silk screen printed by hand, and sewn in Barbata’s Bushwick studio. The material Barbata utilizes is purposefully selected to mimic the many textures found in the Raphael Room’s textiles, as well as the differing ways light reflects off of the gallery’s textiles. The patterns printed on the dresses and scarves are from actual designs woven on the Raphael Room’s wall hangings.