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Sadie Barnette

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SADIE BARNETTE (based in Oakland) works with photography, drawing, objects, and installations to creatively explore the intersections between United States history, its racist structures, and the families and Black lives that flourish even within its oppressions.

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FBI Drawings: No Violence

Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco

Graphite on paper

For FBI Drawings: No Violence, Sadie Barnette modified a page from the five-hundred-page FBI surveillance file kept on her father, Rodney Barnette, who founded the Compton, California chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968. During this period, he was put on the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) watchlist, and his everyday movements and activities were under constant surveillance. Through this painstaking graphite drawing, Sadie Barnette traces the effects of this policing and surveillance while also making strategic (and even playful) alterations.

As the artist explains, “Combing through page after page of state-sanctioned attempts to discredit, frame, to destroy and undo my father, I realized how lucky I am that he is alive . . . that I was born.” The work celebrates the inability of the government to suppress Black life, resistance, joy, and power.

Sadie Barnette’s work is also featured in the following Barring Freedom study guide: Abolition Futures

Sadie Barnette earned her B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts and her M.F.A. from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally, and is in the permanent collections of museums such as the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, the Berkeley Art Museum, the California African American Museum, Los Angeles, The Studio Museum in Harlem (where she was also Artist-in-Residence), Brooklyn Museum, and the Guggenheim, New York. Barnette has been Artist-in-Residence at Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin Headlands, CA and a SECA (Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art) Award Finalist. She is the recipient of Art Matters and Artadia awards and has been featured in publications such as The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesArtforum, and Vogue. She is represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles and Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco.

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