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The Artist's Voice: Sadie Barnette with Rodney Barnette

  • The Studio Museum in Harlem 144 West 125th Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

In this edition of The Artist's Voice, artist in residence Sadie Barnette will be joined by her father, Rodney Barnette, for an intimate conversation exploring the value and complexities of documenting oral history. Barnette's work included in Everything, Everyday: Artists in Residence 2014–15 explores unexpected locations of identity construction, family histories, subculture coding, celebration and excess. In this program, Sadie will expand on these foundations in her work and interview her father, who has been instrumental in setting the stages through which Sadie has framed her own memories and self-explorations. From unpacking the narrative of the racetrack to translating anecdotes from the political front lines, the Barnettes will survey the gaps in the way these formative moments are remembered, retold and omitted in different contexts.

Sadie Barnette (b. 1984, Oakland, CA) deals in the currency of west-coast vernacular, the everyday, fantasy and abstraction, and is unconfined to any particular medium. She received her BFA from CalArts in 2006, and her Masters in Visual Arts at the University of California, San Diego, in 2012. She has shown her work in venues including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Self Help Graphics, Papillion, and The Mistake Room in Los Angeles, Ever Gold gallery in San Francisco and Goodman Gallery in South Africa. Sadie is currently living in New York City while participating in the 2014–15 Artist-in-Residence program at The Studio Museum in Harlem.

Rodney Barnette, the youngest of eleven children, was born in 1944 in West Medford, Massachusetts, one of the oldest African-American communities in the United States. By age 17, his experiences of racism, police brutality and white supremacy led him to The Fruit of Islam as a follower of Malcolm X. To chronicle Barnette's years of dedication to fighting for social justice is to recount the stories of some of the most important fights against racism and state repression in the US after World War II. After being drafted and sent to Vietnam, he organized against discrimination in the military, came home to participate in the anti-war movement, and—after drawing connections between the US's war abroad and its war against its own African-American population at home—co-founded the Compton California Chapter of The Black Panthers. While a college student in San Francisco, Barnette was invited to organize with the National Committee to Free Angela Davis. After her release, he turned his attention to the labor movement, first as a factory worker and later as a union representative. Equally important and always interconnected has been his dedication to family and community. In the early 1990s, he opened the first black-owned gay bar and nightclub in San Francisco, with the help of many of the Barnette brothers, and facilitated a space of progressive dialogue and celebration.