Barbara Barefield | About

Artist, photographer and music lover Barbara Weinberg Barefield has been photographing musicians, performing artists, Detroit history, and more since the early 1970s. 

A graduate of the University of Michigan College of Architecture and Design, her love of photography was developed in the darkrooms at U-M, and then honed and expanded when she was the Art Director of the Detroit Free Press Sunday magazine in the late 1970s. There she was mentored by the Director of the Photo Department, Pulitzer Prize winning Chief Photographer Tony Spina, who taught her to master the traditional art of hand-tinting photos. Prior to popularity of digital photography, she worked primarily with 35mm black and white film.

Barefield's work has been exhibited at numerous galleries, museums and libraries, and printed in books, CD/LP covers, newspapers, magazines, posters, and brochures, and on various websites and online sites. Her 1979 photobook JazzSpace Detroit: Photos of Black Music and Dance is a visual history of Detroit jazz with narrative by Herb Boyd published in 1979 by the Jazz Research Institute with the support of the Michigan Council for the Arts and the E. Azalia Hackley Collection, Detroit Public Library. An expanded and updated version of the book is slated for 2018-19. 

As a winner of the Knight Foundation’s 2016 Knight Artist Challenge, Barefield is creating the JazzSpace Detroit archive that will be in the permanent collection of University of Detroit Mercy. Thousands of photos, posters and images Barefield created over the past 40-plus years are being organized, digitized and archived so that they will be accessible online and in the UMD Library's physical archive, the Creative Arts Collective/Barbara & A. Spencer Barefield Collection.

Barefield has also devoted herself to producing, promoting, and presenting hundreds of concerts and musical experiences both locally and internationally with her husband, jazz guitarist composer A. Spencer Barefield. Highlights include the 1979-1992 "Creative Music at the DIA" series at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Day of Discovery concerts at the Detroit Jazz Festival, and the 10-year Palmer Woods Music in Homes concerts in Detroit mansions and historic homes. This has given her a unique opportunity to intimately document and know the gifted musicians she photographs.

Barefield's work is presently in the permanent collections of the Detroit Public Library E. Azalia Hackley Archive, the Greystone International Jazz Museum Archives, Rosetta Reitz Papers at the Duke University Library, and in many private collections. Her photographs are included in the current exhibit "Sonic Rebellion: Music as Resistance" at MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit ) and ArtPrize 9 at the Grand Rapids African American Museum.

While Adobe Photoshop has replaced her darkroom and Marshall Oil Paints, she hopes to delve back into traditional printing and painting after she has completed digitizing the thousands of negatives residing in her darkroom.