Barbara Barefield, left, with son Spencer and artist Nora Mendoza at the Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale, 2014.

Photo by Doug Coombe for Model D and UIX (Detroit Urban Innovative Exchange.

Barbara Barefield

On the path to following her artistic passions, Barbara Weinberg Barefield took a detour. Painting and ceramic sculpture were squeezed between raising her children (violinist Jannina Barefield Norpoth and artist Spencer Barefield IV). She juggled graphic design; photography; producing jazz, classical and world music concerts with her husband, jazz guitarist A. Spencer Barefield; and using her artistic skills to promote Detroit, her Palmer Woods 
neighborhood, Palmer Park, and numerous peace and social justice organizations. 

The former New Yorker is now coming full-circle, refocusing her energy to once again place the creation of art in the center of her life by launching Barefield ClayWorks with her son, Spencer. The two worked side-by-side at Pewabic Pottery in the early 1990s, when she served as a studio assistant and introduced a very young Spencer to her love of clay. In more recent years, they both created ceramic art at Oakland Community College in Royal Oak.

Barefield’s photography has been widely exhibited, and published in her book Jazz Space Detroit (a book of her photos with text by Herb Boyd was published in 1979 and supported by a grant from the Michigan Council for the Arts). Her photos have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, MetroTimes, LA Times, People magazine, and others.

Her ceramic art was included in juried shows at the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum, at the MCAA Michigan Ceramics 2012 at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, and in 2014 at a three-person show with Nora Chapa Mendoza and son Spencer at the Lawrence Street Gallery in Ferndale, Michigan. Barefield is a graduate of the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Design. She is a former Art Director for the Detroit Free Press Sunday Magazine and for Solidarity, the United Auto Workers magazine.

When her hands are not in clay, or working a camera, Barefield is the co-producer of Palmer Woods Music in Homes with her husband Spencer, and is a board member and events chair for People for Palmer Park.