Sadie Barnette

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

FBI Drawings: No Violence

Black background with white text and drawn white roses
FBI Drawings: No Violence, 2020
Graphite on paper
Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco

For FBI Drawings: No Violence, Sadie Barnette modifies a page from the five-hundred-page FBI surveillance file kept on her father, Rodney Barnette. The founder of the Compton, California, chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, he was put on the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) watchlist, and his everyday movements and activities were under constant surveillance. In painstaking graphite drawings, Barnette both traces the effects of this policing and surveillance and also transforms it. 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.



Portrait of Sadie Barnette

Sadie Barnette earned her BFA from CalArts and her MFA 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 LACMA, Berkeley Art Museum, the California African American Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem (where she was also Artist-in-Residence), Brooklyn Museum and the Guggenheim. She is the recipient of Art Matters and Artadia awards and has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Artforum, and Vogue. She lives in Oakland, CA and is represented by Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles and Jessica Silverman Gallery in San Francisco.