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The background image is charcoal drawing of Spanish Moss or Lace Lichen which resembles abstract painting. Available in charcoal or colors. Framed print. 12x16"

About the Artist

Sculptures. Drawings. 


Creating art is my way of discovering more about myself. 

Art is my interface with the world.


My work has been exhibited at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art and reviewed favorably in the quarterly magazine Artweek. Icarus was given a personal kudo by Kenneth Baker, art critic of SF Chronicle. Xuaca Sculpture has been exhibited in San Francisco, at the Fairmont Hotel and at the Pac Rim Annual Sculpture Exhibition. A gallery in Montreal, Quebec has presented my work and Bryant Street Gallery in Palo Alto has sold several of my pieces.

At this time, in September 2023, Let Him Go, Galloping Seabiscuit is enjoying a favorable response. Two have been sold since the limited edition of 7 was released 3 days ago. 25% of earnings go directly to Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation which preserves and promotes the cultural legacy of historic Ridgewood Ranch, home of the legendary racehorse, Seabiscuit. It also supports STRC Seabiscuit Therapeutic Riding Center which teaches, through hippotherapy, to disabled children and adults, many life skills. (See Seabiscuit image below)

When asked to commemorate Seabiscuit in a sculptural form, it was an opportunity to plumb the depths of what this special horse means to me.

Curiously, Seabiscuit’s story resonates with each of us individually and universally in a very basic way. We've all felt like the underdog, at some point in life, when nothing is going right.

Seabiscuit's life is a metaphor for the overcoming of life's hardness and imperfection. Though he was not perfect, Seabiscuit's heart --his spirited animal grit, obsession to win, honest effort and never giving in--matched and even overcame life's hardness, difficulties and finally he succeeded.

Art, for me, started early and has been a lifetime endeavor. Like many other kids, I made greeting cards for my parents for every occasion imaginable. North American culture required some adjustments for my parents who came from Russian and Germany via Korea and Thailand. As emigres' and naturalized citizens they didn't understand why so many days had to be celebrated--especially birthdays. In Russia, your patron saint's birthday substituted the child's birth date, while here in America, celebrating on the day you were born, I believed, made you feel more special.

As a 5 year old, I couldn’t fathom the various cultural meanings. I just knew that I enjoyed making cards which became gifts for them. Cards were the way I said thank you for all they did for us three kids.

Around 8 or 9 years old, one summer, we traveled the US to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings (because my dad was an architect). When he bought land in the Mission Hills above Fremont, he planned to build our new home there. In my excitement, on his Father's Day card, I drew his Wright-inspired dream house--a hexagonal floor plan on paper the size of a postage stamp and even rolled up the edges. From my child's vantage point of 40 in. tall, all I could see on his enormous drafting table, were his many rolls of drafting paper.


Finally, it turned out, my parents actually did appreciate my lists of things they were benefactors of.

In the interest of furthering the education for all of us children, Dad led us on a far-flung crusade to see the man-made wonders of the world--so we traveled overseas quite a bit. By the time I was 9 or 10 years old we had climbed London Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Edinburgh Castle and Heidelberg and visited pubs guarded by fierce animal sentinels with red eyes.


We floated serenely in gondolas in Venice and experienced subdued gardens and lavish parades in Kyoto, Japan. In Bangkok, Thailand (where my grandparents established and took on the duties of owning a hospital). The carved temple guardians--larger than life-sized half creature/ half human, excited me and left a particularly vivid impression.

As an adolescent in school in SF Bay Area, (see Flavian-Roman Lady image below), I expressed myself through art projects whenever I had the opportunity. The terracotta bust of a Flavian (Roman) lady, above, I modelled at 13 years old for Ancient History class.

Later, in my first year in college at 17 for an overnight self-portrait project in Basic Design, I taught myself in a metal shop, to weld a bird from scrap metal. The result, (see Bird image, below), was well received.

For my senior year at UCSB, in a year-abroad program, I studied--at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice Italy--anatomy, art history, drawing, painting and sculpture. I received my BA Art at UCSB.

As an adult, living in Silicon Valley for twenty years, was both a curse and a blessing. A curse because it was too full of distractions. A blessing because SJSU was practically in our backyard.

When the yearning to create with my hands called to me, I applied for my MFA at SJSU. I was thankfully accepted. The MFA program incorporated what I had always wanted to do: (see Barbara with Orthia sculpture image below) sculpting for bronze and pouring hot metal in a large foundry with good colleagues. I developed technical and mechanical skills for the craft and challenged myself while indulging my love of materials.

Later, when I recalled my joyful days of clay modelling (as in the Flavian Lady), I realized it was time to return my roots. Sculpting animals and wildlife, I couldn’t be happier. 

Thank you for letting me share.


Bronze sculpture of Seabiscuit champion horse running hard and free after jockey let him go. SHF approved.
Barbara Phelps working on Orthia her bronze sculpture at San Jose State University bronze foundry.
Barbara Phelps' Flavian Lady which she modeled in terracotta clay at 13 years old.
Barbara Phelps' Bird Self-Portrait for which she taught herself to weld at 17 years old.
Barbara Phelps' recently commissioned clay sculpture of a poodle for an interior design store in Calistoga.
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