My research focuses on the psychology of human vulnerability in contemporary society. The work stems from personal memories and experiences, but taps into universal themes of adolescence, beauty, power, and fear. I believe in the importance of being a witness for one, or even many, through my work. My own adult fears are often triggered by deeply embedded memories: that of casual sexual assault, the lingering male gaze, and the instinctual awareness of suddenly being objectified. These recent pieces seek to engage with these dark realities of growing up in the world.
As a printmaker of unique impressions, I tend to work in a serial nature with repeated motifs. These symbols mostly include dense swamplands, chain link fences, pool water, wallpaper patterns, window screens, and the occasional figure. Through these explorations, my own nostalgic environments of both safety and uneasiness are replicated. My childhood was spent in Florida, which is a state of many strange juxtapositions: wealth vs. poverty, paradise vs. hardship, sheltered suburbia vs. wild everglades. Many news stories from the state have received national coverage because of the sheer insanity of them, including accounts of innumerable missing and exploited children, which of course had a profound effect on my young mind. Even now, as an adult living in another place, I am still grappling with these trepidations. This intense connection to symbolic and loaded moments in my past continues to inform my work today. The settings that I design serve as open metaphors for instances in our lives where innocence turns to fear. Though they are filtered through my personal recollections, I hope that my works can be a common ground for us all: a place to remember, to commune, and to question.
Jessie Barnes is a Florida native, and is currently completing her MFA in Printmaking from the University of North Texas. She holds a BFA in Painting, Drawing & Printmaking from the University of North Florida, where she graduated in 2013. She has been a Graduate Assistant at the university’s Fine Art Press, P.R.I.N.T Press, a Teaching Assistant for foundations courses at UNT, and a Teaching Fellow for printmaking classes. Barnes regularly attends printmaking conferences and workshops each year, and exhibits work in both domestic and international circles.
Learn more about the artist at www.jessiebarnesart.com.
Follow the artist on Instagram @jk_barnes.
Connect with the artist on Facebook.