A 15 second movie clip is what set the stage for Elmira native Barbie Parsons’ entire career. After seeing a woman welding in the movie Cast Away starring Tom Hanks, Barbie knew immediately that she wanted to do the same thing.
“It spoke to my soul,” Barbie said.
Even as a child, Barbie was always ambitious. Her dream as a little girl was to be the first kid in space and the first woman on the Harlem Globetrotters.
She took classes at BOCES in Elmira, then worked at Cameron Manufacturing for 5 years where she learned to weld and honed her skills.
11 years later, she is doing what she loves as a full-time metal sculptor. Her sculptures are in 8 different countries and displayed in 3 New York art galleries. She has also created the world’s first live art welding show, where she travels to events around the country to weld her art live for onlookers, walking them through welding and cutting techniques used in creating metal sculpture.
Fortunately for Barbie, being a woman in a mostly male-dominated field has been a positive expereince for her. “In school, my teacher was extermely supportive. The other students, all male, were extremely supportive.” Barbie said.
Although she shares a name with an iconic figure, she doesn’t identify with her that much. “I’m less like Barbie and more like GI Joe.” Barbie said. Her advice to young girls and other women is to do whatever makes you happy.
“Just because I’m a woman, I don’t have to cook… there’s incredible career opportunites out there for everybody and I think it’s just finding what makes your heart really happy.” Barbie said.
To learn more about Barbie and see some of her work, click here.