Sharon Barnes is an inter-disciplinary artist who explores process and materials in the creation of meaning. Through the medium of Social Abstraction, she is interested in both aesthetics and discourse, creating a visual semiotics that is coded into the materiality, shape, color, and alchemic processes that form the substance of her works. Her processed-based mixed media paintings and sculptures are sourced from a broad range of materials, including city grit from the streets of Los Angeles, or materials that are normally found in a laborer’s hands, with stratums of materials becoming embedded into her haptic, visceral works. Intersectionality and the vast African American experience inspire her concepts, as she considers struggle and resilience, and the potency of change. In the end, her work is a form of visual poetry, where hardships surrender to a poignant beauty and hope.
“In my youth,” says the artist,” I fell in love with poets, musicians and visual artists who were using artistic expression as a form of social commentary while simultaneously creating a powerful beauty. My work stands on the shoulders of visual artists such as Howardena Pindell, Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Melvin Edwards, and Senga Nengudi who have expressed socio-political or spiritual ideas using the language and aesthetics of abstraction. Even if the viewer doesn’t engage with or comprehend the subject matter, there is still a beauty and energy there that might eventually draw them in.”
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 explored communications theory and semiology. She has exhibited widely 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 site installation “Altares” at the historic Arco Chato with artists that included Torkwase Dyson and Imna Arroyo, during her residency at the Spelman College Art Colony, Taller Portobelo in the Republic of Panama.
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.