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.”
Sadie Barnette is from Oakland, California. She earned a BFA from CalArts and an MFA from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally at venues including The Studio Museum in Harlem (where she was Artist in Residence), the Oakland Museum of California, The Mistake Room and Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles, and Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the recipient of Art Matters and Artadia awards, was named one of the “Black Artists: 30 Contemporary Art Makers Under 40 You Should Know” by the Huffington Post, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian UK, Artforum, Vogue, and Forbes, among other publications. Her work is in the permanent collections of museums such as The Pérez Art Museum in Miami, the California African American Museum, and The Studio Museum in Harlem. She is represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles and lives and works in Oakland, CA and Compton, CA.