Cassandra Christensen Barney was born and raised in Orem, Utah. She received her Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Brigham Young University in 2000. “I've had a passion for the craft of the portrait since I was a child.
As a young girl, I visited museums around the world with my father, collecting postcards adorned with 16th century art. Exploring these simple images captured my imagination, unlocking a world of discovery.
I love the art of storytelling, the layers of symbolism, and would create my own stories of these quiet women, making the paintings my own. Today I paint portraits that share my passion for storytelling while revealing my personal journey of transition and discovery.”
Christensen Barney’s images capture the souls of heroines, everyday women who have found strength and personal victory in their diverse experiences. Her portraits carry a range of emotion reflective of the events that have shaped
their character. Ambiguous and poignant, Cassandra’s women find strength in their femininity. “They are beautiful and strong, because of the complexity of their feminine nature”
“My portraits may not always feature the outwardly pretty or majestic, but they all share a quiet beauty that asks us to listen and to feel. My work reflects my personal narrative, yet my intent as an artist is to create an experience that will allow the viewers to bring new interpretations to the symbols, creating their own narrative and own sense of understanding and place.”
Christensen Barney and her father, James C. Christensen, delight in working together. “My Dad inspires me to experiment with my own style, media and interpretation. Painting together in his studio, we have developed a wonderful synergy, critiquing each other and encouraging each other to experiment with colors, surfaces and textures.”
Life is truly art at Christensen Barney’s home as her husband is also an artist and teacher. Her three daughters enjoy creating along side their parents. In addition to her children, Barney encourages many others to explore the world of art. She taught at The Waterford School for four years and part time at BYU. The Barney family will relocate to Vancouver, Canada this fall where her husband Dan will pursue his doctorate in curriculum studies at UBC.
Cassandra Barney’s portraits of women eloquently celebrate life’s passages and journeys. Rich with symbolism both ancient and modern, (Re)Genesis explores the cycle of personal growth, particularly the way life can teach us the same lessons over and over as we age. As the vine arcs above the woman and her stag its red flowers burst into bloom and fade again, like lovely reminders of the impermanence of thought.
Love owns one holiday, but giving these works of art will remind your Valentine of your love all year long. Cassie Barney’s Ex Votos are created in recognition of life being an ongoing series of miracles. And surely love is one of the grandest them of all. Each Ex Votos is a fine art offering commissioned as the result of an answered prayer and displayed to acknowledge gratitude for it having happened. For the celebration of love, they are the perfect gift at the perfect time.
Both A Love Letter and My Valentine are styled with the look of the tin-paneled works found in shrines across Mexico and can be hung alone, together or with the other Ex Votos. “These little artworks are painted out of gratitude for the miracles, protection and prayers answered not only in my life, but for many of us,” says artist Cassandra Barney. “In conceiving these, it didn’t seem that I was illustrating an idea, but sharing and exchanging one. It is a chance to savor that feeling and say ‘thank you’ for letting me experience the miracle of love.”
Love is what the heart can hold and each of these Ex Votos embraces this exceptional yet familiar emotion with beauty and grace. Send A Love Letter that will be written anew every time she looks upon it. Or let a cherub of love visit daily with My Valentine. True love is an answered prayer, let her know you feel that way, too.
Influenced by art of the 16th century and the princess postcards she collected as a child, Cassandra Christensen Barney loves the simple storytelling found in portraits. “I loved that the characters were not always pretty, but looked like regular people playing dress up,” Cassandra says. “Ambiguous and poignant, they are not vain, not beautiful in the classic sense, unafraid to bare their melancholy and even show some sadness,” she says. “Their beauty is in their simplicity, which easily allows the viewer in and to wonder what they are thinking.”
Adara and Her Sister is rich in symbolism. The name Adara translates as “beauty,” the butterfly is fragile and short-lived, and the vines which surround them subtly suggest the bonds of family.
“If there is no opposition, nothing to push against, we would merely float. If that was the case, how would we grow?” begins Cassandra. How can we know joy if we never know pain? “We all have our issues to contend with and it is through that conflict that personal growth is found. Reward comes from engaging in challenges, finding solutions and learning endurance.”
At the same time, is it necessary that this process of resolving has to be a fight? By changing our perspective, could we see those challenges another way? What if instead of fighting through life, we dance?
And Then They Danced is a painting about finding beauty in the battle. The figure chooses this dance, aware and onstage, sharing her conquest and what she is to gain.
“Bullfighting is traditional, dangerous and potentially beautiful but cruel. If I were a matador, I would rather dance. I would turn that fight into something beautiful.
“I was listening to a talk in church about the Atonement. It´s something I´ve heard about my entire life, but never really tried to understand. As used in the scriptures, ‘to atone’ is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind and did so.
“I had a moment of clarity and while I thought, I drew in my sketchbook. I did a sketch of pure white petals falling from the sky like a gift. The petals are mallow which is a symbol of gentleness. As they touched the figure they took away her impurities, leaving her clean and perfect. The red petals symbolize the blood that Christ spilt for us ... and all the figure had to do was look up and accept the gift.”