Barbara Prey (American, b. 1957 in New York) is a contemporary painter whose work resides in the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the New-York Historical Society, the White House permanent collection, the private collections of Orlando Bloom and Tom Hanks, and in over one hundred American embassies and consulates worldwide. In 2015, MASS MoCA commissioned Barbara Prey to create the world’s largest known watercolor painting (8 by 15 feet) for its new Building 6, which opened in Spring 2017. Her creative repertoire extends across media to oil painting and illustration, the latter of which she contributed to the New Yorker for a decade.
With dozens of artworks commissioned by government agencies and institutions, such as four paintings for NASA, Prey is a global ambassador for American Art. Since 2004 she has been tapped annually for the U.S. Art in Embassies program. In 2003, Prey’s work was featured on the White House Christmas card; she remains one of two female artists to be selected for the honor, and accordingly, she is one of just two living female artists in the White House permanent collection. Prey has received numerous institutional accolades, including a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation and the New York State Senate’s “Women of Distinction” Award.
For nine years, Prey has served as the sole visual artist on the U.S. President-appointed National Council on the Arts, the advisory board to the National Endowment for the Arts.
Prey earned a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a Master’s degree from Harvard University, subsequently receiving a Fulbright scholarship in Baroque art and architecture. Prey is an adjunct faculty member at Williams College. She has studios in New York, Massachusetts, and Maine.