Barbara Suplee is a Professor in the Department of Art + Design Education and Art Therapy in the College of Art and Design, the University of the Arts. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from West Chester University in 1983, her MEd in Art Education from Temple University in 1986, and her PhD in Art Education from the Pennsylvania State University in 1995. An advocate for art education, Barbara is active in the Pennsylvania Art Education Association, the National Art Education Association, the Philadelphia Arts in Education Partnership, and the Regional Center for Women in the Arts. She has three research interests-aesthetics, service learning, and special needs populations-and has given presentations on these topics at the regional, state, and national level. Barbara is co-founder of the National Art Education Association's Special Needs in Art Education Issues Group. In 2002, Barbara's interest in special needs populations led her to initiate Service Learning in the department, a community-based art education program that integrates community service with instruction. Now, all students in the professional education program provide quality art experiences to under-served youth in schools that have no art programs, in after school programs, and in special needs facilities.
A practicing artist, Barbara's creative artform is clay monoprinting-a "marriage of ceramics and printmaking." Her work in this medium is devoted to making palpable thoughts and feelings of daily experience that cannot be expressed in words or actions. Painting with liquid clay, Barbara allows each brushstroke and blotch of color to direct and document her personal journey-both physical and spiritual-giving her vision beyond seeing and understanding beyond knowledge.
Barbara was awarded a prestigious Getty Fellowship from the Getty Center for Education in the Arts to support research on her dissertation: "Reflections on the Barnes Foundation's Aesthetic Theory, Philosophical Antecedents, and 'Method' for Art Appreciation." In 2002, she was awarded the Pennsylvania Art Educator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Art Education Association. In 2008, the National Art Education Association awarded Barbara the first Beverly Levett Gerber Special Needs Art Educator Life Time Achievement Award for her work with special needs populations. She was also awarded the Richard C. von Hess Faculty Prize by UArts in 2008.