New Orleans, Louisiana
John Barnes was born in the community of Bogalusa, LA, in 1971, and moved to Baton Rouge, LA, when he turned four. The public school system provided him with his earliest introduction to art making. Throughout Barnes’s education as a youth, he enjoyed drawing, but he didn’t imagine himself as an artist until he attended Southern A&M University as an art major. Barnes also attended Memphis College of Art for graduate study, where he was awarded a Master of Fine Art degree in Sculpture in 1999. Barnes began his academic career at Dillard University, where he currently directs the Visual Arts program. He lives in New Orleans with his wife and two children.
Barnes’s sculptural work—primarily wood, constructed into assemblages—has been featured in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, and also in juried international biennials. His inspiration for new work is based on his surroundings in New Orleans and the Delta region as a whole. His work is also influenced by local news reports that highlight gentrification, income inequality, racism, violence, and justice.
Joan Mitchell Center Residency, 2019
I create sculpture as a means of discussing the human condition. Using reclaimed wood that I gather from my Algiers neighborhood, I construct dwellings that I integrate with text and assembled imagery to explore ideas that deal with public displays of power. I invite the viewer to experience the tiny spaces within the dwellings by loading the interiors with visual anchors.”