Comprised of layers of fine detail, overlaid and combined with archetypal and personal narrative, Barrett’s art unfolds as a series of maps interlacing various meanings, geographies, narratives, lexicons, and traditions. Pulling from a wide variety of sources, including folklore/mythology from Nordic, Irish, and Eastern European lands, ancient Greek art and literature, Old Norse and Irish sagas, natural history, American studies, slave narratives, deathing rituals/keening/lament, epic poetry from Ireland, Finland/Karelia, and Greece, Irish/Old Norse kennings, and art history—with a specific focus on ancient textiles, needlework from Nordic and Slavic lands, oceanic art, knot work from Celtic/Norse/Caucasus lands, weaving, Minoan/Mycenean art, folk horror in film and literature, miniature portraiture, Byzantine/Coptic/Early Christian icons, 18th century Northern European landscape painting, evolutionary science, and popular culture, Barrett explores hidden intersections and unusual relationships between material cultures, natural worlds, and personal experiences.
LANDSCAPES - DINDSENCHAS is an ongoing photo series. Treating each photo as if it were a canvas, I approach photography as a painter. Densely layered, each photograph is comprised of multiple angles, distances, and macro/micro views of a landscape. The process speaks to a kind of deep seeing verses passive glancing - truly looking at the minute details and immense complexity of each shot while simultaneously acknowledging the ephemeral nature of time. Dindsenchas (“lore of places”) in Old Irish or dinnseanchas (“topography”) in modern Irish is a concept in mythology and folk belief in the inherit animated quality of a place—that places within a landscape contain stories/layered narrative qualities/place names. In its most straight-forward sense, the term refers to specific places where a particular event, often mythic in nature, took place. The term can also be interpreted as the landscape itself being the true origin of the inherit nature of the narrative—that the story springs into existence from the earth itself, and not the transient beings (humans) that populate it—we are merely the actors that play out the narrative. I believe both views exist simultaneously. Stories are not only a linear series of events, but also maps that articulate how we view ourselves in relation to the world around and within us. They are articulations of our experience of being in the world, and making some kind of sense of it. I’ve chosen dindsenchas as a kind of narrative vessel for this reason—extending that experience of being to all that inhabit a landscape, looking beyond the human experience to include the non-human, animated world’s experience of being. Visit the gallery here.
PORTRAITS - I’ve always been interested in portraiture, whether via the photographic medium, painting, or drawing; large scale or miniature. You will see it’s reoccurrence throughout all of my work, regardless of medium. A more accurate description of this particular series might be Human Portraits as I feel all of my work is at its core, portraiture. Visit the gallery here.
MINIATURES - This intimate on-going series is shot with a simple point and shoot camera, each photograph measuring a mere 3”x 3”. The series is meant to be displayed en mass, 4 photographs per row with each row stacked one on top of the other, as you see below. I see myself more as a curator than a photographer in this series, often including works of art juxtaposed with various landscapes and natural phenomena—the material vestiges of humanity. Visit the gallery to view the complete series.
I began drawing at the age of three. Using a combination of graphite, ink, and watercolor, I often create portraits and/or icons of humans, flora and fauna, including textile patterns from a variety of traditions. During my sophomore year in college, as a Painting/Printmaking major, I crushed my wrist, which resulted in a loss of dexterity and the temporary use of my right hand. It was during this period that I left drawing, painting, and printmaking behind to pursue audio, film, and photography. However, every Tuesday I’d go to the Kansas City Zoo and wander around with my sketch pad, endeavoring to learn to draw with my left hand. I gained a new appreciation for drawing, in part because I had no expectations when approaching each drawing, much like a child. I have never quite gotten back to drawing and painting in the way I had prior to my injury (in part because my wrist incurred some permanent damage), though I believe it is fundamentally a part of every medium and project I’ve engaged in since. Drawing has become a meditation and a way to deeply see. Visit the gallery here.
I grew up doing needlework as a child with my grandmother, mother, and sisters in Iowa. The women in my family have been, and continue to be, gifted textile artists practicing a variety of textile craft: needlework, lacemaking, knitting, sewing, and weaving (my sister Debbie Barrett-Jones is an established fine art weaver based in Kansas City, MO). As I grew older and more interested in art as a serious profession, I felt an increasing ambient pressure to focus on painting and drawing as primary, and frankly, more ‘legitimate’ mediums—textiles were relegated to mere hobby craft. When I was in college, I began to study textile art history more intensively, eventually focusing my art history senior thesis on the religious nature of ancient Minoan textiles and costume. That period of time sparked a life-long love of the textile arts and their related spaces, processes, concepts, and music practices. Though I’ve loved needlework my entire life, it hasn’t been until the last few years that I began to revisit the medium. As I have devoted a considerable amount of my musical career to traditional women’s vocal music, I have found the study of the textile arts a deep boon to understanding some of the symbolism, narrative, song structures/patterns, and their relations to women’s work and histories. My work currently focuses on various cross stitch patterns from Nordic and Eastern European traditions—internalizing and personalizing each through color and pattern variation while simultaneously maintaining the basic structure of the original patterns. Visit the gallery here.
I’ve worked in film and video on and off for almost 20 years: teaching, directing, and editing in experimental, documentary, and commercial capacities. Video is merely a tool in my paint set; the conceptual processes and results feel the same, though the execution varies. The videos I’ve included on this site represent my experimental/painterly work, some of which are moving variants of my Landscapes / Dindsenchas photo series. Visit the gallery here.