Whether in the form of drawing, photography, or large-scale installation, Sadie Barnette’s work relishes in the abstraction of city space and the transcendence of the mundane to the imaginative. She creates visual compositions that engage a hybrid aesthetic of minimalism and density, using text, glitter, family Polaroids, subculture codes, and found objects. Recent works engage, as primary source material, the 500-page FBI surveillance file kept on her father, Rodney Barnette, who founded the Compton, California chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968. In the artist’s hands, these repressive documents are reclaimed — splashed with pink spray paint and adorned with crystals — in an intergenerational assertion of the power of the personal as political. Barnette’s work deals in the currency of the real, in earthly acts of celebration and resistance, but is also tethered to the other-worldly, a speculative fiction, a galactic escape. As the artist says, “This is abstraction in service of everyday magic and survival in America.”
Barnette (b. 1984, Oakland, CA) has a BFA from CalArts and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego. She has been awarded grants and residencies by the Studio Museum in Harlem, Artadia, Art Matters, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Camargo Foundation. She has had solo shows in the following public institutions: Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Lab, San Francisco; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, Haverford College; and the Manetti Shrem Museum, UC Davis. Her work is in the permanent collections of: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; JPMorgan Chase Art Collection; Blanton Museum of Art, the University of Texas at Austin; Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College; and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Barnette lives and works in Oakland, CA. She is represented by Charlie James Gallery and Jessica Silverman.
All images courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery.