Sharon Barnes is an inter-disciplinary mixed media artist who explores process and materials in the creation of meaning. Her layered paintings, sculptures and installations are infused with a variety of materials, such as things that can normally be found in a laborer’s hands, and things that had been cast aside or broken down. She often sources materials from the streets of South Los Angeles, applying stratums of materials into her haptic, visceral and partially improvisational works. Through the medium of Social Abstraction, she is interested in both expression and discourse. Common construction materials and city grit become signifiers for identity, value, struggle and resilience, and the transformative potency of change, as she questions imposed definitions of ‘what we’re made of’. The layered, multi-dimensional backdrop of the African American experience and the socio-political landscape of America echo through her work.
Hers is an alchemic practice that also draws references to African tribal arts which use materials and objects as a form of ‘magic’ to subdue the hostile forces in the world. “Through processes that alter the state of various materials, and then transforms them into objects of art,” says the artist, “I’m thinking about our power to transmute the challenges confronting us. In the end, I seek to instill empathy for all our struggles and inspire hope.”
Barnes studied at Otis College of Art & Design, and earned a B.A. cum laude in Telecommunications-Film from California State University Los Angeles where she applied research into semiology and communications theory to her visual art practice. Barnes has exhibited in galleries, universities, museums and art fairs, including group shows at the California African American Museum, the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Aqua Art Miami, the Los Angeles Tom Bradley Airport and a collaborative installation “Altares” at the historic Arco Chato during the Panama City Biennale with artists Torkwase Dyson, Imna Arroyo, Oronike Odeleye and Tosha Grantham, during her residency at the Spelman College Art Colony, Taller Portobelo. Born in Sacramento, CA, and raised in Los Angeles, she is a fifth generation Californian descended from African American and Cape Verdean ancestors whose trials and triumphs perpetually inspire her