Mental Health

Former UTSW employee's artwork to hang in new Frisco medical center

Mental Health

Barbara Mason, a former UT Southwestern ultra-sonographer, retired to pursue her passion of becoming an artist.

Barbara Mason has always been passionate about art, even while she was working as a maternal-fetal medicine ultra-sonographer, most recently at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Las Colinas. She was on staff there for two years and has called Frisco home for the last 12 years. 

But recently Ms. Mason decided to retire from the health care world to “pursue my passion of being an artist” full time.

Ms. Mason, who grew up in Springfield, Ill., is a gifted pastel and watercolors painter whose work was among those chosen to be displayed at UT Southwestern Frisco when it opens in December.

Here are excerpts from a recent interview with the artist.

UT Southwestern: Are there any parallels between being an MFM ultra-sonographer and being a painter?

Ms. Mason: Yes indeed. On the medical side, I devoted myself to assisting people in finding their balance. (MFM ultrasonographers specialize in performing ultrasounds for women with high-risk pregnancies.) As an artist, it is always one of my goals to visually help others find a certain balance in their lives. As a painting can move you and make you feel good in a certain way, so too can offering good health care – by helping you find your way and giving you more balance in life. In both art and medicine, I always have a desire to capture the essence of humanity.  

UT Southwestern: Tell us a bit about your artistic background.

Ms. Mason: I started to paint around 22 years ago. I’m totally self-taught.

UT Southwestern: Do you have any artistic role models?

Ms. Mason: They include Dean Mitchell, Annie Lee, and Poncho Brown. All three happen to be African American painters. Amongst African American art collectors, these three are highly coveted. And yet, when I met them, they were so open to taking me under their immense wings.

UT Southwestern: How would you describe your artistic style?

Ms. Mason: I’m a unique African American artist who works in pastels and watercolors, primarily on floral and landscape subjects.

'Serengeti Sunset,' by Barbara Mason

UT Southwestern: Describe your piece that will hang at UT Southwestern Frisco.

Ms. Mason: It’s called Serengeti Sunset. It’s a realistic pastel of a sunset over the Serengeti in Africa. It’s notable for its strong reds, oranges, and golds. They really pop out at you and they sum up what we all most love about a sunset, especially that stunning transition from red to orange to gold. It’s very calming.

UT Southwestern: Why do you think it was chosen?

Ms. Mason: I think it was acquired for precisely the reason I paint: In the oftentimes high-stress, highly intellectual setting we all live and work in – and radiology and ultrasound were certainly like that for me – we all need a calming balance in our lives, and a sunset allows one to stop, pause, take a breath, and appreciate the grandness of things around you. Suddenly, your daily issues seem that much smaller.

Related reading: Take a peek at UT Southwestern Frisco's art collection

UT Southwestern: What was your immediate reaction when your work was chosen for the Frisco facility?

Ms. Mason: It is a huge honor. I’m actually very humbled by it. I paint because I’m passionate about it. It serves as a form of art therapy and a balancing element in my life. So being selected, and being part of a corporate purchase, well, that must mean someone loves my work as much as I do. I know that art is a luxury that no one has to buy. So, again I’m very humbled by this.