Images: “Hesitation”, “Thirsting”, and “Renaissance”


Art is like a serum, transforming its audience for good or ill.

As I paint, the play of light has taken my breath away.
Migrant workers came into view. They have transformed my vision.
Familiar shapes in fields and orchards, migrant workers toil in the Hudson Valley doing jobs most Americans won’t, earning modest wages, sometimes risking deportation.  Hard at work, they summon our attention and invite us to come closer, to see their labor and their humanity.
Who are they? Can you see them?
It’s possible for society to confer invisibility on a group. It’s convenient; if the group is invisible, we relieve ourselves of concern about health care, working conditions, pesticides, housing, lack of ability to get their own food. What is life like for them? What role do we play in keeping them unseen? My work can expand our perceptions of these workers.   If only by their images in my paintings, the viewer will come to see these persons for the vital role they have in our lives.

I was plein air painting in 2014 when some migrant workers came into view. I gestured them in as colorful shapes in the fields. I followed them all summer. I got to know some of them. I was devastated when they left for the season. I was inspired to start painting them from photographs that I had taken.  They got larger and larger and they were turning into portraits! I have been painting them ever since.  I have brought them food, clothing, bicycles, boots from friends. Some of them call me from Jamaica or other farms that aren’t in the Hudson Valley.


“Leading with Artivism “Invisible Society” Q&A with Barbara Masterson”   (Youtube link) 

Interview with Poet Gold (Artist, Poet, Author) 


Barbara Masterson

In 1971 Barbara graduated with an AAS in Fine Art from Elizabeth Seton College, received her bachelor’s degree in Art Education in 1988, and her Master of Art in painting in 1990 from SUNY New Paltz. She studied the figure with Franklin Alexander at Barrett House in Poughkeepsie and in Woodstock. Barbara studied with Mel Stabin and Christine Debrowski. In 2002 she studied withGale Barnett in Giverny, France. She taught art in the Newburgh district teaching the advanced painting classes, the AP art classes at Newburgh Free Academy until her retirement in 2014. Her main influences include Monet, Edward Hopper, Windslow Homer and Michaelangelo. She has been painting her entire life. In late May of 2015 while painting en plein air on a local farm, Barbara began adding the migrant workers to her work. At first they were faceless figures in the fields. They became prominent in her compositions; the figure becoming large/cropped. These workers are some of the “faceless” people that impact our lives. These workers often remain unseen and unknown despite their presence in our Valley for many months each year. Getting to know and then paint them has transformed Barbara and her work. Her large-scale drawings and paintings have transitioned to portraits of the men and women in our society that are invisible. She is a member of Arts Mid-Hudson, She was one of the founding members and past president of The Real Gallery, an artist cooperative in Cornwall, NY that existed for 20 years. Barbara has participated in juried, solo, and group shows throughout the United States. Her work is in private e collections in the United States, Italy, Germany, and Guam. She has had work in the Woodstock Museum of Art, Woodstock, NY as well as a solo show in Her work has also been in the Katonah Museum in Katonah, NY. Since the development of this body of work she has had several regional solo and group shows. In May of 2019 she received a $2500. Individual Artist grant from Arts Mid Hudson to continue a series of large scale drawings of the workers including text. July of 2022 Barbara won the “Artivist” award from Arts Mid Hudson- Ulster County Executive Arts Award, The Beatrice & Sidney Laufman award for her drawings in the Woodstock Art Association and Museum show entitled Focus- Art and Social Justice 2022.

The following is a listing of the last 20 years of selected exhibitions

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

2022 Cuneen-Hacket Gallery Poughkeepsie, NY

2022, 2019, 2016 The Falcon Gallery, Marlboro, NY

2019 Lifebridge Foundation, Rosendale, NY

2018 The Lofts gallery, Beacon, NY

2018 ABCLatino gallery, Poughkeepsie, NY

2021,2018 ,2016 The Falcon Gallery,Marlboro NY,

2018 LBGTQ Center gallery, Kingston, NY

2017 Woodstock Art Association and Museum, Woodstock, NY.

2017 People of the Land, Seven21 Gallery, Kingston, NY

2014 Seasons, Beacon Library, Beacon, NY

2010 Solo Exhibit, LGBTQ Center Gallery, Kingston, NY

2009 Solo Exhibit, Locust Grove Historic Site, Poughkeepsie, NY

2004 25 Year Retrospective, Museum of the Hudson Highlands Cornwall, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2022 Cornell Creative Center for the Arts, Kingston, NY

2022 Art Society of Kingston, NY

2022 Howland Cultural & Arts Center, Beacon, NY

2022 Focus:Art and Social Justice, Woodstock Art Association & Museum, Woodstock, NY AWARDED Beatrice &

Sidney Laufman award for drawings

2019 MIXMASTER Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT.

2019 Focus: Illumination 10 person show Woodstock Art Association & Museum, Woodstock, NY

2019 Far and Wide Woodstock Art Association, Woodstock, NY

2019 Emancipation of the Mind, curated by Willie Mae Brown, Arts Mid Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY

2019 Arde la Tierra/Aching Land, Martinez Gallery, Troy, NY

2019 Saturated an eye for color, Barrett House, Poughkeepsie, NY

2018 Pound Ridge Library, It’s All About Color, Katonah Museum Art Association, Katonah, NY

2018 Loft Artists The Loft, Stamford, Conn.

2018 Tri State biennial juried exhibit, Signals Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY

2018 Juried Member exhibit, Barrett House, Poughkeepsie, NY

2017 Juried Member exhibit, Barrett House, Poughkeepsie, NY

2017 Art of Politics, Barrett House, Poughkeepsie, NY

2017 Far and Wide, Woodstock Art Association and Museum, Woodstock, NY

2017 Inspirations, Hammond Museum, North Salem, NY

2017 The Art of New York, Arkell Museum, Canajoharie, NY

2016 Plein Air, Arts Mid -Hudson, Poughkeepsie, NY

2011 Two Person exhibit, Lifebridge Sanctuary Rosendale, NY

2010 Two Person exhibit, Artroom Gallery & Studio, Marlboro, NY

2009 Group exhibit Millbrook Winery (winner label competition)