Friend
Barbara Carr



riend Barbara Carr was a professor at Pratt Institute School of Architecture. I met her in either my second or third year; class was Media and Communication. We learned to draw, to open our hand more freely, and to use our eyes. It balanced using  a T-square, drafting board, and mechanical pencils.  We got into perspective, light, shade, and shadow, and COLOR! 

Barbara Car, right, with a friend and  traveler in Hong Kong, 1984 by Allison L. Williams Hill

Friend to Many Students

The above images were created in Barbara's Media and Communication class. There were many gifted and creative people in her classes. And many became her friends long after the courses ended.  

Barbara's class was dynamic; we worked in class; I had fun with color in the dormitory and present my work while wearing the paint. Classes took place on many streets of New York City like Village Cigars; Chinatown; the waterfront, and the World Trade Center. Her class that semester was canceled. She had planned a site visit to the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Things happen for a reason.

Barbara Carr in Hong Kong by Allison L. Williams Hill

Sketching in the Orient

I went on one of her on-site sketch tours to Hong Kong and Japan in 1984. She organized others to Brazil.

After the trip, we had a party at (the photographer) studio. It was fun.  I introduced her to my mother and youngest sister. People had their portfolio of work they did on the trip plus other work   that was created since.  Artists of all different levels of skill came.  Architects left their offices for the short time to enjoy experiencing and seeing how to draw in another part of the world. 

Cat Street, Hong Kong by Alison L. Williams Hill

On-site sketch, Hong Kong

Kwan Loon Harbor, Hong Kong

On-site sketch, Tokyo park

One of many site visits for sketching in Japan

In Japan, she and I talked about what we noticed were ways the physically challenged were provided with way-finding.  Braille signage were installed on handrails. Chimes sounded at crosswalks.  Surfaces were treated differently to notify  visually challenge of changes.  Barbara was contacted by the disabled community. I was one of the presenters  and shared what I saw in Japan.  Thereafter, I became more interested in working with this underserved
community.

Developing As a Professional 

I was invited as a visiting critic to her other Media and Communication classes and to her portfolio class, something all architecture students needs to create with very little information out there for them specifically. Long after I graduated from Pratt, I remember being in her apartment for almost five hours going through my work to create my portfolio to find a new job. I really needed to leave the one I was at.  Even more important, I was ready to. 

Her process was unique.  Barbara used a roll of bond paper, folded accordion-style as if you were looking through the work.  It was easy to organize the projects, placement, and  work. She stressed the importance of including not only two-dimensional work but also three-dimensional and non-architectural to display a range of abilities.
 
When we wrapped up, Barbara said be on time for work later. I left her apartment I think around 1:30AM for the subway. I called her when I got in, thanking her. Well, I was late later that morning.  I really made an effort but it did not pan out. She called me at work.  I told her the truth. She laughed.

I had a bouquet of white, yellow and orange flowers delivered to Barbara to thank her for her time.  The colors were what determined the flowers, not the flowers themselves.  It was really bright. She was preparing to leave on a trip and she gave it to a neighbor, Janet Bell. Janet and I connected amazingly enough! It was through Janet that I met Clyde Nocerino who became Rev. Raphael Azarius Francisco di Angelo in 1990.

Barbara took this photo of me in 1988 as a visiting critic at Pratt Institute, my alma mater

I remember little things.  Students from all over the world attended Pratt.  One young man from South Africa was in her portfolio class. She told me he would speak softly to her but not look into her eyes.  She shook his hand and held it until he did.  When I saw him during the visit, he was direct and speaking strong.  The students' work was absolutely beautiful. They were rendering Michael Graves' and other architects' works.  Barbara told them to use that level of work for their own designs. That statement made me smile.  To this day, it still does.

Nature by Allison L. Williams Hill

Personal Pointers from a Friend

We would go out to dinner.  She would impart her wisdom, for example, on clothing.  Buy a few quality pieces. The same with shoes and boots.  She repeated a number of time about caring for boots but the pair I wore I didn't care. I wished they'd decay which was a little dumb; if I felt that way I should not have worn them. 

One night she shared her idea for a book on color and portfolio creation.  Barbara used the pages to teach.  I still have and use them. It was unfortunate that it never got published. She shared what she did with the Riese Organization, owners of TGIF, Houlihan's - our favorite, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc.
Nothing that their corporate enemies would want to obtain.   Barbara did more than art to support herself, which was the purpose of the discussion.  As artists, as architects, we may have to.  Over time, recession realities drove that point home.

Rainbow Bridge by Allison L. Williams Hill

Towards the End

We kept in touch while I was in the Caribbean.  I sent her letters with my art work or photos interspersed. We were talking about creating another on-site sketch tour in the Caribbean but other things became priorities. I had not heard from her in a while. Calling from the Caribbean using Cable and Wireless, we called Cable and Worthless, was expensive in exchange for poor service. Those calls were limited to immediate family. I looked her up when we returned to the states but I saw nothing current, except "In Memoriam" and her name. Barbara was diagnosed with dementia and crossed over a year later.  I still do not know what year that was. 

I hoped that we, my-boyfriend-with-whom-I-went-to-live-in-the-British-Virgin-Islands-and-married and I, would get together in the physical but that never took place. They are aware of each other now. (Smile)

 Barbara was a brilliant artist and illustrator.  She was amazing.  Her artwork was impactful. We kept our appointment.  Thank you, Barbara.   See you soon, friend.

On-site sketch of Stonehenge, 1992 by Allison L. Williams Hill

on-site sketch Cane Garden Bay Mangroves by Allison L. Williams Hill


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