Sadie Barnette’s multimedia practice illuminates her own family history as it mirrors a collective history of repression and resistance in the United States. The last born of the last born, and hence the youngest of her generation, Barnette holds a long and deep fascination with the personal and political value of kin. Barnette’s adept materialization of the archive rises above a static reverence for the past; by inserting herself into the retelling, she offers a history that is alive. Her drawings, photographs, and installations collapse time and expand possibilities. Political and social structures are a jumping off point for the work, but they are not the final destination. Her use of abstraction, glitter, and the fantastical summons another dimension of human experience and imagination. Recent projects include the reclamation of a 500-page FBI surveillance file amassed on her father during his time with the Black Panther Party and her interactive reimagining of his bar — San Francisco’s first Black-owned gay bar.
Barnette holds a BFA from CalArts and an MFA from University of California, San Diego. She has enjoyed solo exhibitions at The Kitchen, New York; Pomona College, Los Angeles and Pitzer College Art Galleries, Los Angeles; ICA Los Angeles, The Lab, San Francisco; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; MCA San Diego; and the Manetti Shrem Museum, UC Davis. Barnette’s work has been included in recent exhibitions at Oakland Museum of California; FotoFocus Biennial, Cincinnati, OH; and the California Biennial at Orange County Museum of Art. Her work is in the permanent collections of LACMA, CA; Brooklyn Museum; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; Guggenheim Museum, NY; San José Museum of Art, CA; Oakland Museum of California; the Berkeley Art Museum, CA; Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; and the Walker Art Center, MN. She’s the recipient of numerous grants and residencies including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Artadia, Art Matters, Eureka Fellowship, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Camargo Foundation in France, and was the inaugural Artist Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Black Studies Collaboratory. Recent commissions include Bay Area Walls at SFMOMA and a permanent, site-specific installation at the Los Angeles International Airport is forthcoming in 2024. Barnette lives and works in Oakland, CA.
Sadie Barnette is the recipient of the 2017 James D. Phelan Artadia Award.