Perusing pavements of New York provoked Four to explore the people behind the passions after serendipity serenaded an organic artistic encounter. Captivating Soho artist Patrick-Earl Barnes captures his version of society in organic, mixed media paintings and creations, all different, daring, and entwined within his poignant theme of deep folk art. With a strong connection to his father and hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, his faith steadfast and his visions invigorating, Patrick-Earl’s persistent passion has become a part of what he continually perceives and successively creates.
interview / nicole camack — portrait / sean pressley
In your own words, what do you do? Art is a way to spread higher consciousness and inspire individuals to think. For the last 25 years, this has been part of my daily purpose to show people how I think. I am a deep folk artist who is driven to succeed in his artistic quest.
The struggling artist is just a term used to damage your creativity. I’ve never heard the term struggling doctor, struggling accountant, struggling engineer.
Can you talk about the move to New York and how you got started? I started by asking God to let me know my purpose. I arrived in New York in 1995. In 1999, I began selling my shirt-and-tie fabric collage artwork on the streets of the eclectic neighborhood of SoHo in lower Manhattan. I began to use my full name Patrick-Earl, in further recognition and acknowledgement of how important my father was and continues to be in my life. I also created a self-brand, Patrick-Earl, from the use of my artwork.
What did you want to be as a child? As a child I wanted to be an entrepreneur, because I had my own lawn business. I love cutting grass and doing yard work.
I love doing things my way.
What’s a job you’ve had in a past life that has influenced your perception? I started working in corporate America early, while in undergraduate studies via the federal government. I had the opportunity to study people’s behavior. I got caught up in the aesthetic of corporate America – the pens, the suits, the happy hours and the symbols of success.
What stereotype do you most aspire to defy? I passed that issue a long time ago. I know who I am.
You use a lot of found art and mixed media. It’s very organic; tell us why that is significant? I like finding the spirits and energy in the things I find.
How do you get in your element? I’m always in my element. Art is how you think. What I learn, I teach in my art. I like to inform with my form of deep folk art.
What keeps you going? This world, this society.
Who has had the most influence on the creative you are? I find the most influence in folk artists who you don’t read or know about.
Greatest accomplishment? Keeping the promise to my late father, Earl A. Barnes, Jr. that I would be happy. Creating and sharing my art makes me very happy.
Biggest fear you have overcome? I learned about having faith, believing in what you pray for.
What’s in the future? Purchasing an original shotgun house and converting it into an art gallery, for my shotgun house paintings. And to continue to engage in developing, nurturing and managing my art brands.
patrick-earl.com / @deepfolk
This interview was conducted fall 2014.