JeffBarnum.art

STATEMENT

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

 

I have been an artist since 1991, but I've had a career supporting large-scale social change efforts around the world. I've worked in peace building, protecting children, transitioning the North American energy system to renewables, and many other kinds of complex challenges. Over the years, I’ve learned that both the root causes and the solutions to tough social problems is the human mind. We have created our messes, and we must remedy them. But I’ve also learned that we can only do that if we understand and transform our culture and paradigms: the “master ideas reigning in the minds of many persons” (Emerson). Therefore, every artwork I make outwardly represents some aspect of this transformation: the transformation of mind and heart that makes peace possible. My images are pictures of the soul’s transformation, drawn from years of field experience.

I think of my work as part of a European or Euro-American tradition. The pictures should acknowledge the isolation and fear of Francis Bacon, the chaos, anger, and agitation of Jean-Michel Basquiat. But they should also touch Cy Twombly's joy, James Turrell's quietude, Abramovic's courage, Dumas' efficiency (or better said, her "grace,") Beuys' cosmology, and Rudolf Steiner's spiritual path. In the future, I aspire to William Pope.L's irreverent humor and compassion, to Sophia Gubaidulina's largess, and Goya's fusion of the mystical and everyday.   

I believe there is a part of every human being that grows stronger through the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" — and I try to depict this tension. I want to convey the intense paradoxes at the heart of spiritual development and becoming; thus many of my works treat with themes of death and rebirth, suffering and transformation, and wisdom earned through pain. The images should afford many interpretations; I take special delight when people see in them what they will. In this way I try to give the work a bit of "medicinal power" — the healing power of the imagination as a function of understanding life's most intimate challenges, ordeals, and joys.