Gertrude Barrer was born in 1921 in New York City and studied at the Art Student's League from 1939-1942/43 and at the University of Iowa. She has been increasingly credited by art historians over the past 20 years as having been a leading contributor to American Modern Art. She and her husband, artist, Frank Russell, moved to Roxbury in 1959, and collaborated on such projects as ceramics, murals, illustrations, sculpture and prints. They were also deeply involved in the Connecticut art world.

Ms. Barrer exhibited in galleries throughout the New Milford and Washington areas, at Anna Howard Gallery, Burnham Library, The Silo, and others. Throughout her life Ms. Barrer participated in many museum shows and university exhibits. Among her exhibits of note was a one-person show at the Galerie Neuf, in New York City in 1947, a turning point in her career. Other exhibits were at the Kootz Gallery, in Clement Greenberg and Meyer Shapiro's "Talent if 1951" show; at the Artist's Gallery, including one-person shows in 1951 and 1956; at Berman/Daferner, in New York City, including the one-person show entitled "Gertrude Barrer: Indian Space and Beyond," in 1992; and at David Findlay, Jr., in New York City, in a show entitled "Unknown Talent: Women Abstractionists of the '30s, '40s and '50s."

Gertrude Barrer's work is included in numerous permanent collections, including at The Vatican; the United Nations Chapel in Geneva, Switzerland; the Cologne Cathedral, in Germany; the University of Maine; the Dayton Art Institute; Women's City Club in New York City; Bradford Museum, Chicago; the Harrison Museum at the State University of Utah; and the homes of many private collectors throughout the U.S. and Europe. Ms. Barrer has been quoted saying, "Art is a religion and a way of life to me. It involves intellect and constant learning, intellectual as well as just the craft of skills in any medium. I am a thinker who uses art as my discipline But I live in the world and must find my symbols in the world."