Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery Portrait Analysis

rboden's picture

In “Untitled (Dad on Pink), 2017”, artist Sadie Barnette (born 1984) creates a collage with black spray paint, cut-out photographs, and a rhinestone tiara on bright pink glitter paper. A thick white frame encloses the piece, a thick leaf of paper. The frame is deeper than the paper itself, and is sealed off with glass, leaving a gap between the collage and the edge of the frame. The reflective glass enables the viewer to see themselves overlaying the piece, though the reflection is unclear and dull. Past the surface of the frame, the majority of the work’s available space consists of the background: a thick layer of tiny specks of sparkly pink glitter. The bumpy texture of the piece refracts the light shining onto it, causing the background’s color to patchily shift from darker and lighter pink to the white of the gallery light.

The subject of the work of art, Rodney Ellis Barnette, father of artist Sadie Barnette, is shown on the piece in two different poses, one overlapping the other. Both poses are nearly identical cut-outs of the subject, one a portrait of him seemingly happy, the other contrastingly sad and somber. In both photographs, Barnette wears the same outfit: a striped blue button-down shirt, a black blazer hanging loosely off his body, and dark pants. He looks as if he is approaching old age as you can see wrinkles starting to form on his face and neck and grey stubble on his chin. His hands are clasped together in his lap, and look abnormally large due to the angle at which the picture was taken. On such a small picture, his hands take up a large portion of the portrait because they are so close to the camera.

In the two back-to-back images of Rodney Ellis Barnette, he is looking outwards and away at two different angles. In the leftmost image, positioned slightly above the right, Barnette seems to be musing, so the gaze seems more serious. In the right image, Barnette’s eyes seem to fix on something in the distance with excitement and anticipation. One thing special about the portrait is the shiny purple rhinestone in the shape of a tiara above the photograph on the right, just above the head of the man with a more serious demeanor . The size of the rhinestone is nearly 1.5 the size of his head and it is placed horizontally. The light reflected from the rhinestone makes it stand out, as shiny as the rest of the background.

 -Rebecca, Eliza, Han