About the NEA

Barbara Ernst Prey

Oyster Bay, NY

Barbara Ernst Prey is a visual artist who specializes in the art of watercolor. Her work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as well as the White House. As an artist chosen to participate in the United States Arts in Embassies Program, her painting God and Country is on exhibit at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, and Reunion at Dusk was recently shown at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. Additional works are on exhibit at U.S. embassies and consulates in Seoul, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, Bogota, Mexico City, Athens, Cairo, and Rangoon. In 2008, her work was featured in a touring retrospective exhibition, Barbara Ernst Prey: An American View, curated in Paris by Sarah Cash of Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art. In the accompanying essay, Cash wrote: "Among the foremost watercolorists at work in the United States today, Barbara Ernst Prey has painted powerful, vibrant views of her surroundings for 38 years...the artist continues to take the watercolor medium to innovative places." Prey was commissioned by the National Aeronautics & Space Agency for four works for its collection, including The Columbia Tribute and The International Space Station (both on exhibit at the Kennedy Space Center), The Shuttle Discovery: Return to Flight, and The x-43 (included in the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit NASA Art/50 Years). Her early illustrations appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Gourmet Magazine, and other publications. Her paintings are included in major private, corporate, and museum collections around the world. Prey earned her undergraduate degree in art history from Williams College and her master’s degree from Harvard University. She received a Fulbright Scholarship and a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, which enabled her to travel, study, work, and exhibit in Europe and Asia. The New York State Senate has honored Prey with its Women of Distinction Award, created as a tribute to outstanding New York women. Prey also serves as adjunct faculty at Williams College.