Barbara Hanger graduated magna cum laude in 1976 from the University of Georgia, where she earned a scholarship from the Lamar Dodd School of Art to study in Italy for a semester. She also holds a master's degree from Ohio University in Athens.
Hanger has served as an artist-in-residence for the Atlanta Arts Alliance, the Georgia Council for the Arts and Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Ohio Arts Council. She draws inspiration for her work from the undisturbed landscape of Georgia's Cumberland Island, among other places. Her pencil drawing We're All Stuffed Rocks (1979) is part of Georgia's State Art Collection.