Barrett Keithley is a 26 year old African American born on the south side of Chicago. He is a self-taught artist whose passion for art started as a child reading and writing poetry. His early on influences were poems by Langston Hughes and the writings of James Baldwin. Like Hughes and Baldwin, Barrett conveys stories within his body of work. He paints stories about growing up in the area of the south side known as the “Wild Hundreds”-that depicts the lack of opportunities and resources his neighborhood received. He combines the negatives and positives of his upbringing to construct his own original style of painting. Barrett chooses to use characters that are frontal and flat to depict complex themes in a pattern technique. He uses colorful imagery to showcase themes such as poverty, death, prosperity, and tranquility. Barrett’s current focus is highlighting the positives of reaching and attaining one’s goals, while reflecting on the struggle it takes to get there.
Oils and acrylic are typically the medium of choice, but spray paint and other mixed media are not done away with while he is engaged in the creative process. With each brush stroke and painting Barrett seeks to challenge himself in taking his audience on a visual ride as his skills and subject matter maturates.