“Art is not really a choice for me,” claims Asheville-based sculptor and oil painter Sherrod Barnes-Ginifer – who goes by Sherrod BG professionally. “It’s my life’s work.”
But when she does choose, sculpture gets some preferential treatment, despite being the more troublesome medium. “I started painting as a result of frustration with [using] color in ceramic sculpture,” she admits. “When you put a lot of color on a 3D piece, it changes the visual form of the piece, and can change it too much. And I love the immediacy of paint.
“Sculpture is a long process, and firings are hard to control,” she goes on to explain. “Working on a sculpture, there’s an expiration that happens. The clay dries out and gets hard to work with, I lose patience, or start to lose interest. Then I have to move on and shift from 3D to 2D.”
Barnes-Ginifer generally divides her time, spending three or four months painting and then five or six months sculpting. “My biggest love is clay,” she says, “and recently I am trying to reintroduce more color into sculpture, mixing it up a bit more with greens and blues and textures and making outdoor abstracts displayed with plants and trees.” A North Carolina native who lived in the UK from 2009 to 2016 and returns there annually, she received her MA in ceramics from East Carolina University in 1994; a BFA cum laude in Ceramics from Barton College in Wilson, NC; and has also studied at Alfred University in New York State, Penland School of Craft near Burnsville, and at UNC-Greensboro and UNC-Chapel Hill. Barnes-Ginifer’s work has been exhibited internationally, and she’s completed dozens of commissions.
Coming back to the States represented both a geographical and conceptual transit. “I move around a bit, shifting from realism to abstraction. But I just have to do what is right for me. There was a point in time when I became a little coy about expressing my own feelings in my work, and abstraction gave me more space.” Her abstractions do, however, honor her figurative work, in shape and feel. They insinuate humanlike characteristics while also reflecting forms seen in nature; but, as the artist explains, “I want to get people thinking, and, in my opinion, the best work has to be intriguing.
“I don’t want to spoon feed the viewer. I would say the thing that best describes my abstract work is beauty and chaos.” She doesn’t usually draw her 3D compositions ahead of time, and doesn’t start with a block of clay and carve. Instead, she typically begins with coils of clay and builds them into the shape of a person or a natural form, like a leaf or tree branch, then allows them to evolve from there.
“I also love the whole idea of installation art. You are immersed in the space, almost like a set design. I’ve thought of doing one with a live dancer performing around and through the pieces to create a whole unique environment.
“I wish I had some [pieces] like that to share — but for now they’re all in my head.”
Sherrod BG, Asheville. The artist will host an Open Studio on Saturday, May 21, 10am-1pm at 21 Girdwood St., near the River Arts District in Asheville’s central Chicken Hill neighborhood. For more information, see sherrodbg.com and on Instagram: @sherrodbg.