Barbara Bend earned a BA in Fine Arts at Knox College and MS in Education at UW Madison, WI. She taught for 30 years while continuing to do art on the side. During those years she explored many aspects of the fiber arts including, spinning, weaving, natural dying, felting, quilting, rug making, and knitting. After completing a number of classes on fibers and learning how to weld, she eventually developing her own technique of wrapping metal and building sculptures.
Her fiber forms are created by tightly wrapping knits around welded armatures creating structures substantial enough to hold the weight of added metal pieces and remnants. The forms are embellished with fabrics and discarded materials, like zippers, watch bands, springs, hair roller etc. The fabrics and the found objects are integrated into a new complete form, challenging the viewer to see new life in the common everyday things.
Bend creates work that reflects the human ability to connect through whimsy, archetypes, legends, love, nature, and raw expression while utilizing her love for fabric. She constructs forms that enhance the voice of the fabrics and use a random assortment of materials that connect and repeat to give her work rhythm and movement. Quality fabrics are selected on their historic, cultural and structural voice which add to the richness of the piece. Bend's work responses to both the integrity of the materials and the influences of her surroundings.