I operate under an acute condition of self-induced displacement, indicative of the cultural experience of longing for place. Bucolic literature, films, media, and artwork have served an important role in the creation of the mythological American west: depictions of lush meadows, endless plains, and big skies. This romantic notion is engrained in my psyche, and I find myself at a paradox: at once longing for these mythical places and simultaneously aware that this longing is a product of cultural fiction.
I formulate a visual language that is both specific and general, foreign and familiar, autobiographic and cultural. Through the act of appropriating everyday objects, I create a vernacular language of western sentiment and the cliché of prosperity and freedom. Many of the objects are a part of the artificial landscape; landscapes that have been fabricated or cultivated to transport the occupant to a personal utopia.
I am a product of my environment, but the act of making gives me the opportunity to make my environment a product of me: to realize a vision, to manicure a landscape, to plant a garden, and mount my own Arcadian fixtures. The goal is to probe at the liminal state between physical experience and utopian sentimentality.
— James Barker
His work primarily consists of installations and sculpture comprised of a wide variety of materials including ceramic, fibers, found objects, digital print, wood, projection, light, and anything else he can get his hands on. Having traveled extensively throughout rural America, his work is informed by notions of longing for place, western mythologies, and home-made utopias.