Barby M. Hall was born in 1961 in Vimy Ridge, Québec. As soon as she could pick up a pencil, she began drawing beloved people, animals, trees, and buildings. Encouraged by her family, she continued with this interest through elementary and high school. Later, she was mentored by an established oil painter and took on graphic design jobs, including book covers and illustrations for a local community history.
Her interest in art, however, was accompanied and deepened by an activist spirit. She took Native Studies courses, became involved in Aboriginal rights issues, and was increasingly concerned with the protection of culture, lands, and the environment. She was inspired by the diversity of Aboriginal art, not least by the work of Indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier, whose Canadian Defence Committee she joined.
Barby’s main work at Artbeat has been a series of paintings in acrylic on gesso showing the GMO and pollution-induced environmental deterioration of a landscape – together with its effects on human health. “I’ve taken on painting as a new challenge,” she says, “and I’m pleased with the types of imagery that have been brought out.” Her images are reminiscent of folk art, among other styles, she adds. “My over-riding concern is to have people look seriously at the GMO issue. Doing art gives me an outlet for my political concerns but also vitally aids my mental health.”