Sewanee Artist of the Week: Barton Perkins (C’19)

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Photo by Lucy Wimmer (C’20)

By: Anna Mann

Executive Staff

In their home of Birmingham, AL, Barton Perkins (C’19) and his brother would bike out to an old Civil War Cemetery, armed with crayons and paper, to do gravestone rubbings. Although simply bored at the time, the 8-year-old Perkins had begun his artistic experimentation with texture and color that would continue into college.

Currently an Art and English double major, Perkins states that he began painting as a kid and simply never stopped. In high school, he started to work in sculpture, painting, and photography. It was with his art teacher that Perkins developed a penchant for the incorporation of ash and fire into his artwork, which originated from his photography of burning apples.

When he came to college, Perkins states that he continued to take art classes as a stress-reliever but soon picked up the major. As he left photography behind, greater attention to color and shading became evident in his work. Additionally, wax, ink, and salt suddenly became a staple in any painting. The texture seemed to click, and he says, “I grew into my own by veering away from traditional art and more into collage and mixed media. Lots of stuff with ash, crayon, glitter and fire.”

Along with his strange assortment of creative tools, Perkins’ creative process is a long and elaborate one. His process starts early and continues until the very last moment, he states, “I usually start out with an idea and then I outline very broadly. I like layers, to build up gradually and get a lot of textures in there. I get photographs from the internet that I incorporate some way and it’s very much about adding more and more stuff in.”

Perkins’ detailed, wild, and abstract work has drawn attention at more places than campus, specifically a gallery in Seaside, FL. While on vacation with his family last summer, Perkins shared his work with the owner of Anne Hunter Galleries and impressed her greatly. This coming August he’ll spend a month creating, selling, and displaying his paintings there.


Still, Perkins says he’ll keep art as a side job, explaining that “I think the minute you make art your primary source of income you lose your love for it in some ways. It becomes much less an exploration of your creativity and more of an exercise in putting food on the table.”