Born and raised in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Randall Barnes has his BFA with an emphasis in oil painting from Oklahoma State University. Randall’s work has appeared in Kansas City, Missouri and in the historic Paseo Arts District of Oklahoma City. He is the recipient of juried awards and grants. Randall’s work has been juried in several annual exhibitions, including Tulsa and Oklahoma City Momentum: Art Doesn’t Stand Still, and the PAA Annual Member’s Show on Paseo. Randall is also the Grand Prize winner of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition Student Award of Excellence.
The “Red Shirt Collective” is a loosely autobiographical body of work inspired by my personal experience as a supervisor of the Graffiti Removal Unit for the Oklahoma City Police Department. I draw inspiration from art and art history, as well as pop-culture such as music, film, and literature. I am fascinated with cross-cultural exchange between the East and West. I am specifically interested in the exchange between eastern and western aesthetic traditions and their influence on decorative arts. I engage with the exchange through the long-standing relationship between Hip-Hop and Kung Fu.
In Chinese, the term kung fu can be used in a context completely unrelated to martial arts. Kung Fu is made up of two characters: the first kung, can mean skillful work, hard training or endeavor. The second fu, means time spent. The two combined means time spent at skillful work or hard training. The Red Shirt Collective (as graffiti removers) are depicted in my work as embodiments of this definition of kung fu. As heroic kung fu artisans I portray the Red Shirt Collective in my image to reinforce the idea of the everyman.
To emphasize the aesthetic that is organically inherent in graffiti removal I contrast their minimalist forms with elaborate decorative artwork. Through oil painting and reductive print techniques, I address the idea of the graffiti remover as a heroic artisan. Constructing a narrative in this arrangement allows me to present a platform for conversation. The ambiguity of the narrative provides the viewer the opportunity to create their own story in response to the pieces. This interaction builds personal connection between the viewer and the artwork.