We had the good fortune of connecting with Sharon Louise Barnes and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sharon Louise, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m a native California who grew up in South Los Angeles. The cultural, social and political environment of my childhood and youth, formed my worldview through experiences that directly influence the art work I create. I lived not far from where the Watts riots erupted and where the singer Sam Cooke was killed. I can remember house parties, barbecue being cooked in front of churches, and my parents discussing Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. When I entered college, I learned from Samella Lewis, Quincy Troupe and other cultural icons. This background shaped my thinking and my art.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I work in what is called Social Abstraction, creating paintings, sculpture and installations. I’m using a visual language to implicate social, cultural and political ideas stemming from the Black experience. Artists like Mark Bradford and Julie Mehretu also refer to their work as Social Abstraction, but this kind of work has been present among Black abstract artists for a long time. My path in the art world has been long, marked by perseverance. More opportunities began to open up in recent years, and I’m grateful to curators and gallery owners who include my work in shows. Forming a network, a community of people in the art world is vital. Artist can’t work in their studios in isolation. We have to be part of the world around us, contributing to the conversations in our communities and among our peers. Artists can be an important voice in the world of cultural production and social politics.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’d definitely take my guests downtown to the Arts District. There are great restaurants, galleries, and interesting stores down there to explore and you can hang out all night. I’d also take them to Inglewood and Leimert Park Village, where food, art and shopping have long histories as centers of Black culture. Of course, everyone must go to the beach. Everybody who lives in areas without beaches, needs to know what it’s like to put their toes into the ocean and walk the sandy stretches for fun and inner peace.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I give a shoutout to Michael Massenburg, June Edmonds, Mark Greenfield and other Los Angeles artists who have been my friends, my community, and a source of strength and inspiration for two decades.
Facebook: Sharon Barnes