It is with great sadness that we share the news about the passing of Slater Barron, also known as the Lint Lady. She is one of the most often mentioned personalities that Huell Howser fans talk about when discussing their favorite episodes. Below is the media release from her family and friends.
Known as the “Lint Lady,” Slater’s work is in museum collections, both in the United States and abroad, including the Smithsonian White House Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Long Beach Museum of Art, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museums. Because of the unusual nature of her work, she appeared on many television shows including The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Real People with David Ruprecht, and the PBS series Visiting with Huell Howser. Reviews of her work, interviews with her, and articles she wrote appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including Art in America, Southwest Art Quarterly, People, and Time.
A key figure in the Long Beach art community for more than three decades, Slater had more than 30 solo exhibitions and more than 100 group shows. She worked in many media including dryer lint, collage, assemblage, and paint. She also created Performance art, books, and site-specific Public art.
The choice of dryer lint as an art material began in 1975, when the laundry for her four teenagers produced an abundance of the stuff. Her first lint series, named for the soap operas her daughters watched, were simple abstract compositions made by folding several pieces of lint. In her next series, Slater added other soft recycled fibrous materials to create large installations that took on the appearance of three-dimensional impressionistic paintings; often with social commentary or humor. Working with the true nature of lint which contains hair, bits of tissue, and other detritus that makes it unappetizing, she began creating food that appears to be delicious such as in Chef’s Specials, a series of delicacies that could be found on any upscale sushi menu.
Slater considered her most important work to be the large lint installation that chronicled her parents’ Alzheimer’s disease and a series of lint portraits that depicted how the disease devastated her mother’s body and mind. The intrinsic nature of the faded and soft focus of the lint created a metaphor for memory—especially poignant as her parents’ memories faded.
In 2007, Slater wrote Remembering the Forgetting, a book about the art she made to help her cope with her parents’ Alzheimer’s and to help others who care for loved ones with the disease. Slater was a participant in the University of Southern California Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center’s (ARDC) Brain Research Study and donated her brain for their research. She was the first donor to be accepted under new USC protocols when her COVID-19 test results proved negative.
Born to Williamina Fullerton and Louis Slatnick in New Jersey, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania at age 20 and then worked as a children’s social worker. During the Korean Conflict she served as a line officer in the Navy assisting military personnel and their families with overseas transitions. Slater married a Marine officer, and they had four children while living around the world at his military postings. When her family was stationed in France, she studied art history and painting.
After settling in California as a single mother, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of California, Irvine, and, at the age of 47, a Master of Fine Arts at California State University, Long Beach. Slater taught art at area colleges and universities for more than 25 years including Brooks College, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and University of California, Irvine Extension.
Slater was well known for connecting and supporting local artists. She participated in the Long Beach Mid-City Studio Tour for 10 years, served on committees, juried art shows, and hosted semi-annual artist parties. She organized art exhibitions and served on the advisory board of the Long Beach Senior Arts Colony. Slater also hosted annual “portfolio brunches” for 14 years During that time more than 100 artists contributed an artwork multiple and the final portfolios were given to each participant.
Honors include: Long Beach Public Corporation of the Arts Cultural Arts Commission Distinguished Visual Artist of the Year in 1987, and, in 1997-98, representation of Long Beach in the first CA Senate Contemporary Art Collection Exhibition in the Capitol.
Slater is survived by three daughters, Janet Barron-Jung, Jennifer (John Lin), Maribeth (Michael Gillis), a son Scott (Judy Sugino), 7 grandchildren, and 3 nieces and nephews.
Slater has requested that donations in her memory be given to the USC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center or the Long Beach Museum of Art.