Sugar Dish is Thomas Barger’s second solo exhibition with Salon 94 Design. This new body of work derives from Barger’s relationship to luxury within a domestic landscape, and how it has shifted since he moved from the rural Midwest to New York. “As a child and even as a young adult in the Midwest my understanding of luxury differs so much more to what I see as luxury nowadays, as an adult in New York.”
Referencing decorative and functional objects that Barger associated with wealth and luxury such as longaberger baskets, daybeds, and sugar dishes, he forms a new body of work that alludes to his memories of rural luxury. To Barger, these objects were symbols of high-end luxury, though looking back now, “it’s a little funny what I thought was glam”. These new works not only take on forms that resemble the objects from Barger’s younger years, they also begin a dialogue with elements of utility which point to his memories of growing up queer in a rural context. Each work is carefully titled referencing a specific memory, decorative art history, or cultural moment. Continuing his masterful work in coloring, Thomas adds ornamentation to each work, covering objects in flowers, thorns, and snaked hearts. Sugar Dish contains a body of work that departs from the organic forms found in Barger’s previous work.
Thomas Barger is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. Barger is originally from a rural Cattle farm in Mattoon, Illinois. Like many transplants his move to NYC was motivated by necessity. Barger came to New York in order to access his own homosexual identity at a distance from his rural, conservative, religious background. Amidst this new chosen environment, Barger’s work has been a process of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual exploration grounded in craft, narrative, and humor.
Thomas Barger studied architecture and landscape architecture at the university of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Barger currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Barger first exhibited with Salon 94 Design in March of 2018, and recently has been included in the following group shows; “This is Not A Chair” at Plant Seven, North Carolina; “A Cat’s Meow” at Sargents Daughters, New York; October 2018; and “for Mario” at Tina Kim Gallery, New York.