Barbara Ernst Prey

Barbara Ernst Prey is appointed by the President of the United States to serve on the National Council on the Arts, the advisory board of the National Endowment for the Arts. The 14 Council members are chosen for their widely recognized knowledge of the arts and for their established record of distinguished service or achievement in the arts. “Barbara Prey’s nomination continues our tradition of having prominent visual artists as members of the National Council on the Arts,” said former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. Previous council members include noted artists Leonard Bernstein, John Steinbeck, and Isaac Stern. Prey is currently featured in The Artist’s Role in the Community: Six Perspectives, a film by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Born in New York, Prey graduated from Williams College and earned a masters degree from Harvard University. She received a Fulbright Scholarship and a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, enabling her to travel, study, work and exhibit extensively in Europe and Asia. Prey has studios in New York, Massachusetts and Maine where she has worked and exhibited for several decades. She is an Adjunct Faculty at Williams College.

Prey has been recognized as one of the most significant artists of our time and her work has attracted the attention of major museums including the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. She was recently honored with a retrospective exhibit in Paris, curated by Sarah Cash of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Prey’s artwork has been on exhibit at the White House and her painting for the official White House Christmas Card (commissioned by the President) is part of the White House permanent collection. Her painting Line Leader is on exhibit in the office of the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Many of her paintings are included in prominent private, corporate, and museum collections throughout the world.

The Heckscher Museum in New York honored Barbara with their “Celebrate Achievement Award” for her accomplishments and contributions to American art and culture on a local, national and global level. Heckscher Museum Director Michael Schantz said, “Barbara Ernst Prey [is] one of America’s most gifted watercolorists…Barbara’s flawless technique ranks her among the most important artists who ever painted in the medium.”

Prey is an artistic ambassador for the United States, chosen to participate since 2004 in the United States Arts in Embassies Program. At the U.S. Embassy in Paris she was the only living American painter exhibited with prominent American masters Homer, Ryder and Sargent. The U.S. Ambassador to Spain requested a special exhibit of her paintings for the U.S. Embassy in Madrid. Her artwork is on exhibit in many U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide including: Prague, Seoul, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, Bogotá, Mexico City, Athens, Cairo and Rangoon. The Arts in Embassies Program presents the works of influential American artists to a broad, international audience.

She was recently honored when NASA commissioned her to paint four paintings for their collection. The x-43, the fastest aircraft in the world, included in the Smithsonian Institution’s 12 Museum Traveling Exhibit NASA|ART:50 Years, was on exhibit at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. NASA invited her to be the artist spokesperson for the exhibit and she was featured on The CBS Evening News. Her other NASA commissions include: The Columbia Tribute, to commemorate the anniversary of the Columbia tragedy; the International Space Station, which is on exhibit with her painting of the Columbia Tribute, at the Kennedy Space Center; and the Shuttle Discovery: Return to Flight. Prey joins an elite group of American artists who have been invited by NASA to document the history of space exploration including Norman Rockwell and Robert Rauschenberg. Dr. H. Lester Cooke, former National Gallery of Art Curator who guided the NASA Arts Program comments, “future generations will realize that we have not only the scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age but artists worthy to keep them company.”

The New York State Senate honored Prey with the Senate’s “Women of Distinction Award”, a tribute to outstanding New York women. She joins previous honorees Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Eleanor Roosevelt. She was invited as “one of the top players in today’s American art world” to moderate the panel Women at the Helm of American Art in New York with Museum of Modern Art Curator Laura Hoptman and Guggenheim Curator Nancy Spector.

Prey’s artwork is in prominent private, corporate, and museum collections around the world including The Brooklyn Museum, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The White House, The Farnsworth Art Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, Hood Museum Dartmouth College, The Taiwan Museum of Art, The New-York Historical Society, The Henry Luce Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Collection. Her work is owned by private collectors including President and Mrs. George W. Bush, Nobel Laureate Dr. and Mrs. James Watson, Ambassador and Mrs. Craig Stapleton, Prince and Princess Johannes Lobkowicz, Orlando Bloom and Tom Hanks. As a spokesperson for American Art, she was invited to lecture at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. for the Winslow Homer exhibit, at he Corcoran Gallery of Art for the John Singer Sargent exhibit, at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid on American Art and at Dartmouth College. She gave the opening lecture for the All-Ivy Intellectual Interchange Series: Arts in America in New York City. With work in the White House’s permanent collection, her appointment to the National Council on the Arts, the advisory board to The National Endowment for the Arts, as well as a long list of important private and public collections, her place as a significant American artist is secure.