Barbara Wolff is a New York artist whose work focuses on the natural world. Her artistic guides are the master illuminators of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, artists who used gold leaf to reflect brilliant flashes of light to enhance the effect of their illustrations. Not only does Wolff meticulously embellish her illuminations with gold leaf, but she paints them on parchment, a traditional material made from animal skin. She grinds minerals like azurite, malachite, and lapis lazuli into precious pigments to replicate the rich colors of those ancient images.
Wolff’s work is inspired by the poetry of nature in the Book of Psalms, specifically that which celebrates the miracles of creation. For this exhibition she also reflected on the Prodigal Son parable, filtered through her passion for the environment. The Prodigal’s repentance brought with it a sense of responsibility to his family and community. Passages in the Bible describe our relationship with nature as one of stewardship, enjoining us to accept that duty and warning us of dire consequences if we ignore it. Wolff’s detailed illuminations remind us of the need for responsibility in a fragile world.