“Oil paint is my primary medium of choice, but I like to experiment. I was told from a very young age that it’s vital to stick to one method and keep perfecting it, but I like to venture out,” the 18-year-old said.
Barry began winning competitions for his artwork in 2010 and has been gaining attention for his pieces ever since.
In 2013, Duperon won first place in the art competition hosted by U.S. District 5 Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, and was awarded a $10,000 scholarship.
Alice Jones, a youth advisor for the NAACP Fayette County youth council, encouraged Duperon to participate in the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, which is a yearlong program designed to encourage academic and cultural achievement in black students.
“His work is impressive and causes people to be moved and react,” Jones said.
At the program’s national competition, which was held in July, Duperon took home three medals and about $2,000 in scholarships for his work.
That money, along with other rewards from other art competitions he has entered, will help him attend the Savannah College of Art and Design this fall.
Many of Duperon’s paintings are portraits of historical, black figures such as musician Jimi Hendrix and executed Georgia prisoner Troy Davis.
Perhaps his most impressive piece is a 48-inch by 56-inch mosaic of teen Trayvon Martin, made entirely of Skittles candy and Arizona Tea labels, representing items Martin had on his person when he died.
“Trayvon would’ve been 18 years old and I just turned 18. Georgia has the same stand your ground law as Florida and when I was working on [the mosaic] I felt like I could’ve been in his place,” Duperon said of his inspiration for creating the piece.
He also pointed to his surroundings as inspiration for his work.
“I’m influenced by the style of urban realism. I live in an urban environment and I see both beauty and decay every day,” Duperon said.
He said the term “urban realism” describes a style used by artists who often distort or disfigure their subjects in order to express emotional themes deeper than what can be viewed physically.
“I try to speak through my art,” Duperon said.
He said the message he tries to express through his art is people should observe what is around them in order to find influence and inspiration.
“I want be a professional artist and influence younger artists because with every piece, my goal is to become a better artist as I mature,” Duperon said.
Recently, Duperon’s artwork was displayed in the home of Dwight Eubanks, star of reality television show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
His art will continue to be displayed in various exhibitions in the downtown area.