Assistant Professor of Art
Joined Connecticut College: 2012
M.F.A., University of Southern California (USC); B.A., Yale University
U.S. militarization and imperialism
Critical discourse in contemporary art
Chris Barnard was born in New York City and studied art, history and French language as an undergraduate at Yale and in Paris, France. After graduation, he returned to Paris to teach English in a public high school for one year. Upon returning to the U.S., he lived in New York for several years, working as a Web designer at NYU School of Medicine to support his painting practice, maintaining a studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In 2003, Barnard moved to Los Angeles to pursue his M.F.A. from The University of Southern California (USC), and was based there until 2012. During that time, he taught as adjunct faculty at Cal-State Dominguez Hills and USC, in addition to working for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in her Los Angeles office, designing, developing content for, and maintaining her official U.S. Senate website.
He then taught full-time for three years in the Midwest — first as Assistant Professor at Denison University and then at Indiana University — but maintained a studio in LA, returning in the summer to live and paint in preparation for exhibitions on the West Coast. As of July 2010, Barnard was back in LA full time, teaching at USC and continuing to show his work with the gallery Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in San Diego, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City, and can be found in public and private collections nationally and internationally.
In August 2012, Barnard relocated back to the East Coast to begin his current position as Assistant Professor of Art at Connecticut College. He and his partner live in New Haven, Conn.
Chris Barnard teaches these courses: Concepts in Two Dimensions; Drawing Fundamentals; Introduction to Painting; Figurative Painting & the Politics of Representation; Large Format Painting.
In my work, I wrestle with the politics of landscape painting. Currently I am focusing on the relationship between romantic representations of the “American” landscape and the ideologies that have long fueled U.S. imperialism and violence.
Often characterized by wide vistas, dramatic light and stunning terrain, the works of 19th-century landscape painters like Albert Bierstadt or Frederic Edwin Church depict the U.S. landscape as grand, transcendent, and even sublime. Painted from and for a European-American point of view, however, these works reflect and project a colonial gaze — one that advertises the abundance and promise of the American West and celebrates the ideology of ‘Manifest Destiny.’ In so doing, these works encourage exploitation of the land and obscure the deception, displacement and murder of those already deeply connected to it. Recognizing this, even as I am drawn to these iconic paintings, I am troubled by them—the darkness in their light, the horror in their splendor.
My current body of work explores these contradictions. In these paintings, I engage questions of light and dark, truth and fiction, substance and surface, reality and mythology. To address these concerns, I evoke the expansiveness and atmosphere of romantic landscape painting. However, I work to undermine that romanticism by layering images and materials and, for example, re-framing ‘heavenly’ light, and the color white, as forces of darkness and portents of sorrow. My hope is that viewers are left wondering about what it is they are looking at — whether projected over, breaking through, covered up, or emerging from behind — and why. As is typical for my paintings, these works also incorporate various levels of representation; some are tightly rendered and others are painted more loosely with abstract mark-making, saturated colors, and/or thick, dried paint scraps. All are made to suggest struggle — among and between imagery, materials, intents and processes — and to provoke critical thought.
- Chris Barnard, March 2014
To view Chris Barnard's work, visit his website: www.chrisbarnard.com/