Home Art & Culture Dorothy Gill Barnes, 93, Artist Whose Raw Material Came From Trees, Dies

Dorothy Gill Barnes, 93, Artist Whose Raw Material Came From Trees, Dies

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Dorothy Ellen Gill was born on May, 30, 1927, in Strawberry Point, Iowa, the third of four sisters. Her father, Gorda, owned a furniture store and funeral parlor. Her mother, Dorothy (Moninger) Gill, was a homemaker.

As a girl, Dorothy found solace in nature. She liked studying the flow of rivers and streams. She collected stones of all sizes. With her youngest sister, she played in an asparagus bed in their backyard, hiding her toys beneath the dirt.

Ms. Barnes attended the University of Iowa in the 1940s and received both a B.A. and an M.A. in art education. While teaching at Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, she met a music teacher and composer named Marshall Barnes. They married in 1952, settled in Worthington, Ohio, and raised a family.

In her 40s, Ms. Barnes discovered the work of a basket maker named Dwight Stump, who used white oak wood, and she was captivated by the idea of harvesting materials from nature. She began making small nontraditional baskets before moving on to more large-scale work that incorporated wire, stone and glass. She collected wood across Ohio: shagbark hickory in Knox County, white pine in Athens, maidenhair fern stems in the Hocking Hills.

Ms. Barnes’s work is in permanent collections at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York and the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington. She taught extensively and hosted workshops at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine and the Penland School of Craft in North Carolina.

In addition to her daughter, Ms. Barnes is survived by three sons, Ted, Gordon and David; a sister, Mary Teschner; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 2006.

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