UNO professor inspires upcoming Omaha artists


Charlotte Reilly

University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) professor Barbara Simcoe has been transforming painting and drawing students into artists since 1998.

“I love working with college-aged students,” Simcoe said. “They are adults, but in the structured, studio classroom environment, they are very much in the early stages of learning about themselves as young artists. It’s very gratifying to see them develop over the years.”

Simcoe has been painting since she was a child. Her style has shifted from political to mythical to photographic from her time as a graduate student to now.

“Being a serious artist involves change, and not walking on a treadmill in terms of being repetitious,” Simcoe said. “That’s what I encourage in the studio classroom.”

Simcoe encourages students to follow techniques and trust their instincts.

“I used to get really anxious starting like a new piece,” student Holly Tharnish said. “She really taught me how to just do what my gut says and to play around.”

Simcoe’s classes are about three hours long. She travels around the classroom and answers questions students have about their paintings.

“It’s very much mentoring,” Simcoe said. “I get to know them on a more personal level and they get to know me.”

She hopes her passions for painting and drawing shine through and help students see beauty in all art forms.

“Paint is just goo. Clay is just earth,” Simcoe said. “It’s kind of like alchemy. You take something that is nothing and turn it into something amazing.”