Barbara Kasten was born in 1936 and eventually returned to Chicago, where she currently serves as a Distinguished Artist at Columbia College.
She studied painting and textiles at the University of Arizona (BFA) and the California College of Arts & Crafts in Oakland (MFA) before transitioning into photography.
In her work from the early 1980s she fabricated elaborate constructs with geometric objects, mirrors, and wire. Of this body of Polaroid prints, critic/historian Estelle Jussim writes: "They are theatre, sculpture, painting, light play--all masquerading as photographs. They are obsessively perfect, complex, imaginative, yet completely controlled."
Among other awards Kasten is the recipient of Guggenheim, Fulbright-Hays, and NEA Fellowships. She is also an award-winning filmmaker.
Her photographs are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; International Center of Photography, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Modern art, Lodz, Poland; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others.