Under Our Skin

Deborah Barlow
Falulle 7, 2007
Mixed media on wood panel
12 × 12 in

Interior characteristics often differ from surface qualities. A young ‘tween might be sassy and defiant, yet under the skin of these choices, she can possess a very sweet nature. Artwork is the same way. The visceral, visual qualities of the language can be as opaque as all the challenges we experience when we try to “read” the people around us. It takes time.

—Karen Fitzgerald, Curator of “Under the Skin.”

I am a member of two artist collectives, both operating as part of the SHIM Art Network. Pell Lucy is the collective I put together three months ago (more about that project here.) I am also a member of Spliced Connector, a group assembled by my good friend and colleague, Karen Fitzgerald.

While Pell Lucy’s raison d’être is its commitment to the intelligence of form—“ an intelligence far deeper and more complex than conscious, discursive thought”—Spliced Connector has a different ethos:

Spliced Connector is an artist collective based on the idea that multigenerational diversity enriches creativity and expression for everyone. Started by artists affiliated with Long Island University, Spliced now openly advocates for unexpected collaborations, intergenerational connection and vibrant art making.

Karen came up with this idea while teaching at LIU Post earlier this year. As pandemic shutdowns thwarted exhibit and career options for new graduates, Karen saw a way to create community between existing artists and newly minted ones. In an effort to be more interactive than traditional mentoring programs, Karen partnered older artists with younger ones as a way to mutually expand and enrich.

Many artists (like me) are introverts who prefer the privacy of a studio where work can happen in solitude. So yes, I have had a C. S. Lewis “surprised by joy” response to getting to know a young and vital artist, Kandi Spindler. The Spliced Connector credo of cross generational pollination isn’t just a slogan: How else could I have become friends with an artist who has described herself this way: “Katherine Spindler is an MFA student and public defender practicing in Nassau County, New York. As the child of a New Yorker and West Virginian, she’s a gaudy mashup of glitter, coal dust, high heels and diet mountain dew. Her art is more or less the same.”

You can see Kandi’s work here and here.

Spliced Connector has just launched its second online exhibit on Artsy: Under the Skin.

From the Under the Skin curatorial statement:

The skin of an artwork is literally the top layer, the last effort to shape something with this language in the process of making it. Often, we are allowed to see beneath this particular kind of skin. The layer may be partial; it may be transparent, or translucent. In the hands of a skilled artist, this kind of probing can last a good while. It can take us deeply into the work.  


The skin of an artwork is also its covering; its protective layer. When artwork holds provocation, or challenges long-held associations, the confederacy of intimations is sometimes inviolable. This kind of skin may not invite us in. It may turn us away; color might be distasteful, representational content might signal a realm we don’t wish to explore. This kind of skin can be powerful.

We have so many ways to consider the layers of a work of art, and so many ways to consider the layers of life. We navigate complexity instinctively, in our daily lives and when we encounter works of art. The exhibits I tend to respond to most are those that bring those distinct domains into a fluid, dreamlike comingling.  

Below is a sampling from the show. You can see the entire exhibit here.

Ann Sgarlata
Flight.1, 2020
Watercolor on paper
12 × 12 in

Linda Tharp
Pathway, 2019
Watercolor and sumi ink on paper
12 × 16 in
Kathleen Velo
Colorado River #9 Morales Dam Yuma Arizona, 2018
C print
20 × 16 in
Judith Kruger
Terrain Study 38, 2017
Sumi, minerals, paper, reclaimed wood construction
16 × 11 in
Lauren Bourguet
Flow, 2020
Photograph printed on cradled wood panel
16 × 16 in
Karen Fitzgerald
Dusk Blind New Moon, 2019
Oil paint on paper
22 1/2 × 18 in
Rachel Goldsmith
Shooting Rainbows, 2016
Ink on paper in simple light wood float frame
19 × 16 in

Kandi Splinder
Cake Faced IV, 2019
Mixed media of vintage photo with paint marker and acrylic paint, handmade wooden frame, acrylic medium and polymer clay
16 × 14 in


14 Replies to “Under Our Skin”

  1. Nice post, Deborah. Some beautiful work!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thanks Susana, I trust your eyes unquestioningly.

  2. A good collaboration, Deborah! The work shared here is amazing, and I would like to see them in person, at leisure, for pleasure!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you so much for your response. I have missed our back and forth!

  3. Such understanding can only come through deep reflection. Thank you.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      I agree.

  4. Wonderful reflection of the work..thank you!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thanks so much Ann. I am so looking forward to getting to know you and your work.

  5. Susana V Jacobson says:

    Your piece is gorgeous! You seem considerably more sublime, and what..? I think somehow a kind of gritty aggressiveness is GONE. I see the huge change in you as reflected in this piece. Brava!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thanks so much for your words SVJ. We go back SO far…witnesses to our lives and our work. What a treasured thing this is.

  6. Thanks, Deborah. The works from “Under the Skin” are all serious, and seriously beautiful.

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Michael. Your response is so valued.

  7. Fantastic! Yes, I have found Spliced Connector to be a unique bridge to an incredibly talented artist community! So many thanks to you and Karen Fitzgerald for all of the work that you do!

    1. deborahbarlow says:

      Thank you Lauren. So glad you are part of this group.

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