Across painting, sculpture, installation and especially the evocative and surprising places in between, mixed media artist Sharon Barnes pursues a voice of visual abstraction that contains multitudes of narrative, symbolism and meaning. Barnes cuts, collages, deconstructs, builds, paints, layers and excavates her materials, creating compositions with exuberant depth and complexity; her gift is for telling stories within her inventive intentions of process and gesture. The way she addresses legacies that are both personal and societal, drawing energy and inspiration from literature and music alongside art history and political urgency, give her rich topographies the complexity her ideas deserve and require. Her new exhibition is on view at Band of Vices until February 19.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
SHARON BARNES: I’ve always recognized that I was born a creative person. I first started working in the music industry in my early twenties and also studied film until I settled on a path as a visual artist.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
I work through Social Abstraction which melds my formal aesthetics with social concerns.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
If I wasn’t a visual artist, I’d be a writer or landscape designer, or anything else creative.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I went to grad school at Otis College of Art & Design after I’d already been working professionally. I wanted to get my MFA to fine tune my critical ideas and my practice.
Why do you live and work in L.A., and not elsewhere?
Los Angeles is home even though I get energized mulling around cities like New York and Madrid. I’m a 5th generation Californian and it seems I’m rooted in the climate and cosmopolitan mix of where I live.
When was your first show?
I started showing in the late nineties even though it seems like yesterday.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
My current show is Straddling the Whirlwind, a solo show at Band of Vices.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
Living, Julie Mehretu. Dead, Jack Whitten.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
I listen to music some of the time, but I also like quiet. I listen to jazz, hip hop, and Afrobeat when I feel like listening to music.
Website and social media handles, please!