September 22, 2002 - Washington Post: Chilean Artist Carmen Barros Howell met husband in Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 09 September 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: September 22, 2002 - Washington Post: Chilean Artist Carmen Barros Howell met husband in Peace Corps

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, September 22, 2002 - 10:39 am: Edit Post

Chilean Artist Carmen Barros Howell met husband in Peace Corps

Read and comment on this story from the Washington Post on Carmen Barros Howell, an artist who met and married Warren Howell, an American Peace Corps volunteer in Chile in the 1960's. Her charcoals and pastels (like the one shown above) can be seen online at:

Drawings by Carmen Barros Howell

Read the story at:

Area Artist Has Lifelong Love For Her Craft*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

Area Artist Has Lifelong Love For Her Craft

By Jennifer R. Wickersham
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 22, 2002; Page LZ03

Tucked away in a tranquil corner of Purcellville sits the attic studio of Carmen Barros Howell, a prolific artist with a rich accent, an easy laugh and a one-woman show at the embassy of her native Chile.

At 60, Howell is a petite, energetic woman with neatly cropped hair, clad in capri pants and sneakers. Hands on hips, she recently surveyed the dozens of charcoals, paintings and sketches lining the sun-filled space.

"The hardest part of preparing for a show is not creating work but deciding what should hang together," Howell said. "I'm going to take maybe 50 pieces with me, but I will show maybe 30."

She narrowed it to six sculptures, 10 drawings and 20 paintings to fit the theme of her show: perspective, particularly how women judge themselves when examining their own reflections.

"You know you can look in a mirror and sometimes you think you look pretty or ugly or heavy that day," Howell said. "That's what I want to show. What we see when we look in the mirror."

The month-long exhibit of Howell's work is the first art show held by the Chilean Embassy.

"They never do things like this," Howell said. "So it's very good. They have a new cultural attaché, and it's nice to be a part of it."

Howell cultivated her love of art as a teenager in Chile during the 1950s. Raised in a strict parochial school environment, Howell said she always felt the need to express herself artistically, often to the dismay of her parents and teachers. "I was always being kicked out of school," she said.

Despite her parents' skepticism, Howell enrolled in art classes at the University of Chile.

"My parents just thought it was another crazy thing I was doing," Howell said. "I went to class from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., took all the classes I could take. I loved it. I couldn't get enough."

In the 1960s, Howell met and married Warren Howell, an American Peace Corps volunteer in Chile. They moved to the United States, where Howell continued her studies at the University of New Mexico while her husband trained Peace Corps volunteers working with Pueblo Indians.

"In Albuquerque, I learned to weld," Howell said. "That was wonderful. You can do things so much faster than in stone or wood, where it might take two months to see. When you weld you see it almost right away."

Warren Howell's Peace Corps missions took the couple to far-flung locations, including Brazil and El Salvador. In 1966, the Howells and their two children settled into their current Purcellville home.

Prompted by the lack an art program in her children's school, Howell embarked on what would be a 30-year teaching career that included postions with Emerick Elementary School in Purcellville and Loudoun County Day School in Leesburg. Howell said she loves teaching because it allows her to give people of all ages a new perspective on their own creativity.

"I love the way people decide that they can do things they didn't know," she said. "It's like a light being turned on. You make them see in different ways."

Besides teaching full time, Howell has maintained a prolific career as an artist, displaying her work in public and private shows each year since finishing art school.

Howell works in various media, depending on the time of year.

"I weld in the beginning of the summer, from April to July. During the summer, I do terra cotta," Howell said, her front yard in full bloom with delicate black iron sculptures and molded terra cotta masks.

"Every week, I work with a nude model, sketching, drawing, painting," Howell said. Several works are included in her show at the embassy.

Though Howell has been a professional artist for more than 40 years, she confessed that the process of showing her work, particularly on the scale of the embassy exhibition, unnerves her.

"It's like being naked in front of thousands of people," she said.

Howell's exhibition at the Chilean Embassy, 1732 Massachusetts Ave. NW in the District, is open to the public from 3 to 5 p.m. daily until Friday. For information, call 202-785-1746.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

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