BYRON SONNIER
BIO

A self taught artist born and raised in South Louisiana, Byron Sonnier began his art career as a photographer. After moving to Birmingham, Alabama in 2000, he began exhibiting his photographs throughout the Southeast in numerous regional galleries. While still pursuing photography, Sonnier began to explore other mediums including painting, sculpture, and installation. He now concentrates on creating imagery that focuses on his and other's cultural roots and practices. From 2009 to 2013, Sonnier was employed as an art assistant to internationally revered artists, Cam Langley and Janice Kluge. In 2009, Sonnier was chosen to curate the critically acclaimed Graffiti Show at Bare Hands Gallery. A follow up show focusing on freight train graffiti culture was staged in 2012 at Art Folk Gallery.


STATEMENT

I come from a Cajun and mostly Catholic family in South Louisiana so I grew up going to church on a regular basis. There are lots of icons and symbols used in Catholicism and I’ve always been fascinated by them. Once I got older and left that environment, I started to notice the symbols and themes used in other religions and some of their commonalities. I became especially interested in the Revival and Holiness movements of the South. That led to my discovery of snake handling and the many controversies and characters involved in that practice. I started to make work based on revival tents, preachers, and snake handlers. While on a trip home to Louisiana one Fourth of July I noticed how all the fireworks tents looked just like revival tents. I took a bunch of photos and started painting the Black Cat logo which has its origins in China as a symbol of good luck and fortune. This led me to use other forms of cats including panthers and tigers in my work. I eventually began combining these symbols and ideas from different religions, cultures, and personal experiences to create my own narrative.


SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2016  Sanctum, Birmingham, Al  Serpents in Shadows, Carousel of Light

2016  Rojo, Birmingham, Al  The Bear and The Ghost

2012  Art Folk Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Reading The Rails

          *also curated

2012  Eastern Shore Art Center, Fairhope, Al  Visions of Alabama

2012  Art Folk Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Reflections of Food in Alabama Art

2012  Birmingham Museum of Art, Graffiti Installation

2011  Kevin Irwin Studios, Birmingham, Al  Flameworks

2011  Birmingham Museum of Art, Graffiti Installation

2011  Boutwell Studios, Birmingham, Al  Reclamation

2010  Bottletree, Birmingham, Al  The Revivalist, solo show

2010  Birmingham Public Library  Heads Up Alabama

          *collaboration with Janice Kluge

2010  Lite Box Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Everything Must Go

2010  Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Shine 2010

2010  Lite Box Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Glamour Shots

2010  Parkside, Birmingham, Al  Six By Six

          *also curated

2010  Boutwell Studios, Homewood, Al  Sofa Size Paintings

2010  Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Strange Bedfellows

          *collaboration with Tracy Martin

2009  Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Hello My Name Is…The Graffiti Show

          *also curated

2009  Bottletree, Birmingham, Al  Buy Fresh, Buy Local

2009  Rojo, Birmingham, Al  Byron Sonnier & Baxter Wahl

2008  Acadiana Center For The Arts, Lafayette, La  Southern Open 2008

2008  Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham, Al  Group Show

2008  Rojo, Birmingham, Al  Photo Show

2007  Flying Monkey Arts Center, Huntsville, Al  Lache Pas la Patate, solo photo show






I come from a Cajun and mostly Catholic family in South Louisiana so I grew up going to church on a regular basis. There are lots of icons and symbols used in Catholicism and I’ve always been fascinated by them. Once I got older and left that environment, I started to notice the symbols and themes used in other religions and some of their commonalities. I became especially interested in the Revival and Holiness movements of the South. That led to my discovery of snake handling and the many controversies and characters involved in that practice. I started to make work based on revival tents, preachers, and snake handlers. While on a trip home to Louisiana one Fourth of July I noticed how all the fireworks tents looked just like revival tents. I took a bunch of photos and started painting the Black Cat logo which has its origins in China as a symbol of good luck and fortune. This led me to use other forms of cats including panthers and tigers in my work. I eventually began combining these symbols and ideas from different religions, cultures, and personal experiences to create my own narrative.