Coming soon, creator Chris Barnard will be joining us as our annual artist in residence for a week. From April 23 to 26, there will be opportunities abounding to interact with Barnard as he works with a number of our students to create collaborative pieces ranging from portraits to collages. After speaking with Carl Gombert, Professor of Art at MC, it seems that Barnard hopes to focus on complicated race relations from the past, present and future that exist in east Tennessee
Barnard himself is an artist and professor at Connecticut College who creates paintings that deal with political constructs or many of the complicated relationships that exist within society. Whether it’s idealist depictions of landscape encompassed with underlying, contradictory American ideas, or spaces that also represent current social issues, Barnard’s works are truly thought-provoking while remaining visually captivating.
“In this body of work I am focusing on white supremacy’s relationship to the privilege spaces of my experiences, such as private art and educational institutions,” wrote Barnard on his website in reference to his latest collection of works titled “Root Rot.” With a true awareness of many current, public discussions about race and representation among other topics, Barnard has formed pieces that allude to the erosion of such spaces by manipulating ordinary surfaces and changing colors to feel unexpected.
For instance, one of Barnard’s acrylic paintings from the “Root Rot” collection titled “Blue Blood” seemingly depicts a statue that would likely sit in a museum, but the walls in the background are dripping a royal blue liquid all around. In his work titled “. . . and so life be enriched,” the setting appears to be a rather grandiose library, yet lengthy drips of various, bold colors form what one would expect to be the floor.
“These new paintings share their precedents’ roots in contemplating Whiteness,” Barnard wrote on his website. “These, too emerge from wrestling with the politics
of painting – the connections and gaps between painting and lived experience. These, too, reflect: a love of paint, the act of painting, and the power of the painted image,” reasons Barnard.
With a clear ability to manifest ideas over multiple levels and a passionate interest in his own relationship to the act of painting, Barnard’s pieces will likely make you think just as he intends.
“In the end, I strive to make engaging paintings that suggest dissonance and ambivalence, and that entice and challenge viewers, just as painting them entices and challenges me,” wrote Barnard.
During his upcoming time on campus, anyone is certainly welcome to participate in any of the activities from creative endeavors to engaging in new conversations. Throughout Barnard’s one-week pursuit, many other local organizations will also be involved when it comes to discussing the various histories we all find regarding race relations.
Of course, a collection of Barnard’s works titled “Armillaria” will also be featured in the Blackberry Farm Gallery in the Clayton Center for the Arts where a reception and presentation will also be held on April 23 at 7 p.m. For even more information or to view much more of Barnard’s work, you can visit his website at chrisbarnard.com.