Hi there! I am Concetta Barbera, a visual artist based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Using paint and ink I like to wander into alternate realities that offer elements of whimsy and nostalgia with a touch of industrial grit. I’ve had a passion for photography and illustration since childhood. As a student at University of the Arts (BFA 2005), I became fascinated with the urban landscape and folklore of historical cultures, often drawing totem-like characters (I love totem poles!) on ephemeral objects or installing work in public spaces (shhh). Collaborating with the vibrant street art community in Scotland while studying at Edinburgh College of Art (MSc 2007) deepened my interest in integrating something fanciful with the familiar. Living oversees also kindled my love for travel and bringing many cameras with me everywhere. I still print in the darkroom.
I’ve organized, collaborated on and participated in exhibitions throughout the Philadelphia region, including Ephemera! at the Library Company of Philadelphia and World’s Fair at Kung Fu Necktie Gallery. History and ephemera began to influence my work directly in 2010 when I became the photographer for the Library Company of Philadelphia, a rare book library founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731. I now carry many jobs including co-managing the collections based social media (think gifs!) at LCP as their Digital Outreach Librarian.
I hope to continue to illustrate and explore other worlds through travel, historical materials, animated films (Studio Ghibli is my favorite!) and reading. I owe a big thanks to the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society for including me in such a great creative community.
P.S. my favorite book is The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, this site’s name is inspired by the novel.