Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1963, Alex Barrett has been actively working in metal sculpture since the age of fourteen. As an apprentice to his father, Bill Barrett, Alex developed the ability to bring an idea to life and gained an intimate knowledge of fabrication.
Alex’s work has been published in the New York Times, THE Magazine, and newspapers throughout the country. His work is on public display at the University of Chattanooga in Tennessee and at various locations in Santa Fe, New Mexico where it has received high media attention. His massive 20’x5′ wall sculpture, Alchemy, was selected for inclusion in the SITE Santa Fe New Year’s installation to ring in 2007. He has exhibited in Switzerland, Chicago, New York, Santa Fe, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, Alabama, and Connecticut to date.
My recent work has been in conversation with the term biomorphic, a word that combines the Greek word ‘bios,’ meaning life, and ‘morphe,’ meaning form. With my latest pieces, I begin with living elements found in Nature—seeds, pods, and vines—and weave them together in an organic abstraction that takes on a life of its own. The work reflects on the origins of species, our unified source of creation. We’re all from the same place, but when thrown out in the wild, we take on diverse forms. The same occurs in this series of sculptures…They are all basically one shape, yet come out looking very different.
In the series Biomorphic Structures, seeds become the main elements of my sculptures as vines twist and grow around them. Beauty evolves from a seed to a fully blooming entity. It is from the spaces that enliven and reflect nature that the truest synthesis in sculpture is formed.
My process begins by drawing a shape with pencil on paper. I use the positive and negative space from my sketches to make templates with paper cut outs that go directly to metal. The metal becomes a small maquette of the shape fabricated from sheet aluminum—a single edition artist proof. I cut, join, inflate, and weld with my hands, establishing techniques that I will use when building the piece at a larger, monumental scale.
When building large-scale works, I use aluminum and powder-coat the sculptures to withstand weather so they can live outdoors. I fabricate some surfaces by welding or experimenting with heat, while others I inflate to resemble mylar balloons. I create everything with durability and interaction in mind, so that they are strong enough to travel and withstand elements, and smooth enough to explore with one’s hands.
The work as a whole is both a reflection and representation of a deep curiosity with the alchemy of organic matter. It is the evolution of such energy and form that is inherent in all I create.