Like many other young women who grew up in the early fifties, Barbara Abel considered only two possible careers for herself : teaching or nursing. She opted for the former, taught elementary school in the suburbs north of Boston, in Oakland, California, in Toronto, Canada, and in Durham, North Carolina, and then worked as a research assistant at Wayne State University for ten years.
In the 1990s, her life took an eventful turn when she discovered fine art photography. Encouraged by the recognition her work began to receive, she embarked upon a new career as a professional photographer. Abel has since pursued that career with a passion. Since 1995, her work has been juried into more than thirty exhibitions, both locally and nationally. Several of her images can be found in galleries and private collections nationally, and are published in Communication Arts Magazine, Photographer's Forum Photography Annual, and The Photo Review.
Influenced by 19th century photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and the Pre Raphaelite painters of the same era, Abel projects a sense of drama and emotion in her work while exploring the feminine mystique and her own feminist spirit. Among the awards she has received are the prestigious First Prize in the1997 multi media Michigan Fine Arts Competition held at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Association which was awarded by John Walker, a well known New York oil painter; the First Place award in the Scarab Club's Gold Medal Competition in Detroit, MI, The William S. Holmes Award given by Marc Mayer from the Albright Knox Art Museum for her work in the Chautauqua, NY Center for the Visual Arts, and the Curators Choice Award for Women in the Visual Arts at the Erector Square Gallery in New Haven, CT. Her work has been juried into many national competitions by notables such as photographer Larry Fink, Colin Westerbeck from the Art Institute of Chicago, Elizabeth Sussman and Susan Harris, former assistant curators of the Whitney Museum, Jeffery Hoone, director of the publication Light Works, and Jane Aldin from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In the winter of 2000, she exhibited in a solo show entitled Tragic Beauties at the Viridian Gallery on 24 West 57th in New York and was in a Three Person Figurative Exhibition at The Society of Contemporary Photography in Kansas City, MO. This fall her work was exhibited at the Janice Charach Epstein Gallery in West Bloomfield, Gallery 213 in Chicago, and at the Denos Museum in Traverse City.
Abel currently resides in West Bloomfield, Michigan with her husband Ernest, a scientist, writer, and fellow photographer, and her golden retriever. Her son, Jason, was responsible for the construction of this website.