Exploring the Patterns of Artist Hannah Barnes

“My work is deeply rooted in the generative processes of drawing,” Hannah Barnes explained, “I am interested in how structures, patterns, and systems form and breakdown. This is a fluid process that is especially visible in nature, and my approach to drawing and painting reflects this fluid process of structure and transformation.” IMG_5717

Featured this month in the Harrison Center Gallery Annex is new work by Indianapolis artist Hannah Barnes. Barnes, whose work has appeared internationally at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Wroclaw, Poland, as well as stateside in the Richmond Museum of Art in Richmond, Indiana, and the Shore Institute for Contemporary Art in Long Beach, New Jersey, shows to us this month her unique world of colorfully lined planes of patterns and shapes.

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“I often begin a piece with a simple dot pattern or linear shape,” Barnes said of her work, “Sometimes these are spontaneously generated, but often they are borrowed from another visual source that I have been studying. I then add layers of painted information to build new patterns and structures that transform the initial thought, or first layer, of the image.”


Greatly influenced by textile design, folk art, and nature, Barnes’ work, by means of its linear shapes, glowing watercolors, and coaxial lines, reveals to the viewer the product of her rich process. “In some of my paintings, the process of how the image was formed is very visible,” Barnes said, “In my painting called Marrow, the lower part of the painting is a disc-like form created from hundreds of concentric lines. These lines resemble the growth rings of a tree, and the shape is the result of laying down one line next to another. The piece also reflects the imperfections of the hand as it repeats lines. As a result, the viewer is given a sense of time and labor through visual repetition.”


This characteristic of intensive time and labor in Barnes’ work is captivating. As you spend time with her work, your eyes begin to trace and wonder at the labyrinth of her lines. These life-giving constructions seem to take your hand as you journey through each piece; they move you along to and from the accompanying shapes where you sit and rest for a bit. You realize the shapes, figures, and colors occupy the space of the rectangle in a sort of paradoxical, polyrhythmic fashion. Each piece becomes a sort of microcosm of the natural world in its own right as it holds together seemingly incongruous patterns in a mysterious cohabitation. You continue on, seeking new colors and new patterns, hungry for more.


“For me, visual art is nonlinear,” Barnes explained, “It allows for associative, lateral thinking, leaps in logic, and non-hierarchal processing of experience. As an artist, one can entertain paradox, uncertainty, and not knowing in an extended and open-ended format. One can ask questions without necessitating answers.”

Hannah Barnes’ work hangs throughout the month of January in the Gallery Annex.