Barbara Tyroler lives in a heavily windowed house in the woods with her husband, David Cooper. She received her M.Ed. from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst with emphasis on visual communication and community arts development and her MFA in Imaging and Digital Arts from the University of Maryland. In between graduate degrees, Tyroler and Cooper founded animage Photography and Videography and raised daughter, Samm, who became a China scholar, occasionally collaborating with her mother’s fine art practice.
Tyroler’s background and approach is varied- artist, photographer, educator, and community worker. Her experience and familiarity in each discipline have been mutually influential, linking personal and cultural issues of transition, family, and identity. Whether for personal projects or on commission, she carves meaning through the integration of a strong formal aesthetic within the narrative or thematic context of her subject. Her most recent projects include a prestigious commission to produce Rockin the Spectrum, a permanent art installation incorporating source imagery of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder as they learn to navigate and trust the water. The project was awarded a 2014 North Carolina Arts and Humanities award and includes multiple exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, and music performances with and for people with diverse abilities.
Tyroler’s fine art work focuses on semi-abstracted figurative imagery within the landscape, navigating her subjects through an internal rather than literal interpretation. The Water Series collection captures diverse groups and individuals in swimming pools. Her Beijing Impressions series is a traveling exhibition of composited portraits of people in the Chinese cultural landscape and includes video, translated essays, and a silk installation. Integrating her sense of design and craft while maintaining sensitivity towards interpersonal and social dynamics, the portrait/self-portrait series incorporate the notion of interactive collaborations that actively engage the subject, often as a series of collages produced with a team of writers and other artists. German abstract conceptual photographer Uta Barth and writers of visual perception James Elkins, John Barthes, John Berger, and Rudolf Arnheim have influenced this work.
In a Washington Post review, columnist Frank Van Riper describes her work:
"Barbara Tyroler, a photographer and educator of uncommon talent, is pushing the boundaries of photographic imagery, creating both multiple-photo prints that give new meaning to collage, while also employing a wealth of creative techniques to produce one-of-a-kind water images that are both sensuous and ethereal."
Before returning from the DC metro area to her hometown Chapel Hill in the summer of 2009, Tyroler served on the faculty of the art department at the University of Maryland where she taught traditional wet darkroom, digital imaging, and lens-based critical theory. As founder and director of the University’s Photo Outreach and Family Arts Enrichment programs, she supervised student internships providing experiential learning opportunities for emerging photographers, art students, and art educators. Tyroler currently teaches an independent masters level photography class and occasionally offers workshops with Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies. She is the recipient of over 35 state and local community outreach grants.
Tyroler produces site-specific portraiture for corporations, universities, health-oriented nonprofits, and families. With an emphasis on advocacy in health and education, her community work articulates a more documentary approach. Projects include editorial assignments with special populations in hospitals, schools, and therapeutic environments. This work is typically affiliated with nonprofit organizations supported through public and private grants. In the tradition of her favorite documentarians, Cartier-Bresson, Eugene Smith, and Mary Ellen Mark, she communicates through precise attention to light, timing, and framing.