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For some, the energy that drives to create is discovered early; for others it develops over time as life slowly comes into focus. Such is the case of Barbara Madden-Swain, an exceptional ceramic artist who discovered her passion for clay long after her children were grown.

“I had no interest in pottery,” recalls Barbara from her home near Annapolis, MD. “In fact, I was a physical education major and wanted to coach swimming!” 

Fortunately for everyone, poolside dreams were replaced by the pursuit of an undeniable gift and a string of accolades soon followed including, among many others, juried exhibitions at the Allied Artists of West Virginia (AAWV) Sunrise Museum and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, plus an invitation by the Smithsonian Institution’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to include her work in the African-American Design Archive.

A graduate of Howard University (BFA) with supporting classes from the Corcoran School 

Art and Montgomery College, Barbara has consistently produced breathtaking examples of African-inspired art as well as her signature series

of glazed porcelain and stoneware hats which displayed at the Cultural Center Gallery in Charleston, WV under their Historical Women’s Hats series. 

It’s her distinctive method of melding stained glass with clay however, that sets Barbara’s work apart from her contemporaries.                       

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