Barbara Cohen began her artistic career in 1973 as she attended Sheridan College School of Design in Ontario with a major in textiles. For the next 18 years she created three dimensional fibre pieces and now focuses on jewellery. The transition from sculptural textiles to body ornament was a logical development which represents a distillation of artistic focus. The materials that she finds and is drawn to are most often the inspiration for her creations and often reference her textile background. Using materials out of context is a consistent aspect of her work giving them an ambiguity that draws the viewer's attention, questions preconceived notions of value and suggests new meaning. As with all the material she has used, their possibilities continue to unfold and reveal themselves to her.
Creating jewellery offers an intimacy and commitment to refinement that speaks to Cohen's sensibilities. Upon seeing her collection of fossil pendants a fellow artist called her an 'organic perfectionist.' So well put to describe one of the many contradictions in Cohen's life. Whether the intent of not, she feels one's art is autobiographical expression. While she continues to create her own sculptural jewellery pieces, her interest in promoting Art Jewellery has lead her to curatorial exhibitions focusing on jewellery and fine craft.