Ernest Barnes: The Spirit of Movement
Ernest “Ernie” Eugene Barnes Jr. was considered to be one of the leading artists in the world. He is popularly known for his portrait titled “Sugar Shack” which was featured in the 1970s sitcom, Good Times. His artistic expressions create uniqueness and imaginative experiences in African American culture. His interest in painting was sparked while browsing through art books when he accompanied his mother to work. He began painting while he attended North Carolina College which is now North Carolina Central University. Aside from being a talented artist, he was also an incredible football player. He went on to play for five years in the NFL and decided to quit to pursue painting full-time. Barnes credits his college art instructor, Ed Wilson, for laying the foundation in his development as an artist. Wilson was a sculptor who instructed Barnes to paint from his own life experiences. “He made me conscious of the fact that the artist who is useful to America is one who studies his own life and records it through the medium of art, manners and customs of his own experiences.”( Powell). Most of Earnest’s artwork depicts his view of African American culture and his love for athletics. His paintings also reflect his commitment towards racial and ethnic harmony. During interviews and personal experiences, Barnes spoke about his experience as a football player very negatively. In interviews and in personal appearances, Barnes spoke about how he hated the violence and physical aggression of the sport. However, his years as an athlete gave him unique, and in-depth perceptions. With the help of Wilson, Barnes was able to focus on what his body felt like in movement. With that inward discovery, Barnes realized to pay attention to what his body felt like in movement. Within that elongation, Barnes realized there’s a certain pride he receives when his body is elongated and there’s an excitement when his body moves on the field....
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