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Chelle Barbour is a California native, who began her foray into the arts as an actress in community college theatre. Barbour was a stage manager, president of the Thespian Club. Working with director, Dr. MaryEllen Kazmark, Barbour landed lead roles in Summer and Smoke, Show Boat, The Sound of Music and For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Barbour moved to Los Angeles and continued her studies in theatre, fine art, and design, and ultimately completed her education at UCLA and USC. Today, Barbour has refined her interdisciplinary art practice to include assemblage, collage, digital video, painting, photography, independent curating and writing. Barbour’s extensive collage work  re-imagines the body of the black female through the lens of Afro-Surrealism and Afro Futurism. Her characters cast a wide net in terms of how they perceived.  Whether the image reflects chameleons, agent provocateurs, goddesses, muses, warriors or spies, Barbour’s college portraiture conveys notions of allegory, desire, fantasy, femininity, fragility, tension, and the inherent complexity within the black female imaginary.

 Barbour has participated in many group exhibitions and collaborations like the Black Lives Matter public art project at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery (2016); Simone Leigh’s International Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter project at the Project Row Houses in Houston, TX (2017), You IS Pretty! Surrealism and The Black Imaginary, a solo show at Band of Vices Gallery in Los Angeles (2018), and one of three American artists selected to participate in the European exhibition, The Medea Insurrection: Radical Women Artists Behind the Iron Curtain (2019) on display at the Wende Museum of the Cold War in Culver City, CA.

Barbour’s art practice also involves curating and writing. She has worked with a nexus of local and international artists that began while conducting field research in Cuba for her graduate thesis, “Performance and Memory by Selected Cuban Artists: Ana Mendieta and Tania Bruguera,” which examined Cuban history and contemporary art through the lens of Alison Landsberg’s critical study of prosthetic memory and mass culture. Barbour’s curatorial involves both independent and institutional exhibitions, such as A Book as a Work of Art for All, Madame B, Colored Girls: Works of Art by Women of the African, Asian and Latin Diaspora presented in Los Angeles, and traveling shows like Posing Beauty, The Kinsey African American Art, and History Collection, and planning a three-year exhibition schedule at the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle.

*Barbour’s artworks are in the permanent collection of the California African American Museum, the J. Paul Getty Museum Photo Archive, The Wende Museum, California African American Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Richard Seavest Collection, The Bank of American Collection.  photo archive, and in notable private collections. Barbour was a 2018 Nominee for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant and was awarded the distinguished 2021 California Individual  Artist Fellowship.


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