Barbara Mydlak is a contemporary Polish artist, born in 1987 in Bilgoraj (Poland). She lives in Belgium and Poland. She is an archaeology graduate of the Faculty of History at the University of Warsaw. In 2017 she graduated with honours from the Faculty of Visual Arts at the Strzeminski Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz, Poland. In 2017 she started her doctoral studies at the Faculty of Painting and Drawing, University of Fine Arts in Poznan. From 2019 to 2021 she was a lecturer at the Faculty of Design, Academy of Fine Arts in Szczecin. She has lectured and held workshops at China Academy of Art (CAA) in Hangzhou, Tainan National University of The Arts (TNNUA) and others. In September 2022, she opened her own art studio in Ghent. She works in a variety of fields and media, including textiles, handmade paper, experimental film, drawing, installation and stage design.
Barbara Mydlak focuses on finding new ways of expression and experimental processes. Her art is strongly connected to nature and regional traditions. She grew up surrounded with forests and rivers of south-eastern Poland, a region where many traditions and local rituals are still cultivated. This has greatly influenced and inspired her work. She is interested in the moments of birth, death and rebirth, which all form the rhythm of nature. The ephemeral aspect of the process of decaying matter, infinite repetition of the same cycle, changes related to periodic renewal are the subjects she explores. Mydlak's works are related to her autobiographical stories, specific memories and traumas, the passage of time, rituals, mostly related to death and the process of dying. They are often intended to provoke discussion about loss and the influence of cultural context on the perception of death. Her installations have an ephemeral element, they are usually made of perishable, delicate and vulnerable to destruction materials that can be transformed and reused. Her objects change over time under the influence of outside conditions and substances used in the process of creation. Through art, she aims to create her own healing rituals.
Developing a kind of 'survival art', she places great emphasis on the ability to create material from scratch, on her own, with the final artwork often including an information about the creation and processing of the materials. The organic waste, decaying plants, leftovers and rubbish that she finds and collects in certain places are transformed by her into new forms and gain new meanings. Mydlak combines different materials, media and techniques to create her installations. She tries to evoke memories through smells and tastes of objects or sounds and through moving images. She expanded her knowledge during her archaeological studies, especially in the field of bioarchaeology. Her work draws on her archaeological experience, where she interprets and explores spaces, talks to local people, conducts interviews and researches. She combines her knowledge of craft and science with her emotions to develop her individual visual narration and original methods. For her, research is an ongoing performative process.