JeffBarnum.art

STATEMENT

ARTIST'S STATEMENT

 

I have been an artist since 1991, but I've had a career in another field, namely consulting in complex challenges. Over the years, I’ve learned that both the root causes and the solutions to humanity’s toughest problems is the human mind, heart, and will. We have created our messes, and we must remedy them. But I’ve also learned that to do that, we must understand and transform our culture and paradigms, the “master ideas reigning in the minds of many persons,” as Emerson called them. Every artwork I make represents some aspect of this transformation, the transformation of mind and heart that makes new social arrangements possible. My images are pictures of the soul’s transformation, drawn from years of my own experience. In this sense they are also a living document that charts my own inner growth.

I think of my work as a growing point of artistic tradition. I aspire to reference Goya's fusion of the mystical and everyday, Cy Twombly's joy, James Turrell's solitude, Abramovic's courage, Dumas' grit, Bacon’s fear, Basquiat’s chaos, Beuys' cosmology, Gubaidulina's largess, and Rudolf Steiner's vision. And I acknowledge that I still have far to go.   

I believe we grow stronger through the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" — and I want to depict this in an ultimate form, a kind of “initiation” in a modern sense. My goal is to convey the intense tensions at the heart of spiritual development and becoming, so many of my works deal with themes of death and rebirth, suffering and transformation, and wisdom earned through pain. The images should afford many interpretations, and I am especially happy when people interpret them in their own ways. 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.