Barros started out working with visual poetry. Her early work was influenced concrete poetry, particularly the Noigandres group, and incorporated techniques from pop art, body art, and conceptual art.
In 1983, she exhibited a video with poems at the 17th São Paulo Art Biennial. That same year, Barros published Onde Se Vê, an artist book featuring photography and concrete poetry set in progressive fonts and layouts. The photographic sequence of a tongue interacting with the keys of a typewriter marked the artist's turn to a more visual exploration of linguistic themes as a visual pun on the word "lingua" - that in Portuguese can mean both "language" and "tongue".
The use performances documented through of photography or video permeates the artist's work.
In 1990, Barros began her ongoing project Ping-poemas, a broad group of works that appropriate elements of table tennis. With Poesia é coisa de nada exhibited that year in Milan, she featured 5000 balls imprinted with the name of the exhibition scattered through the gallery floor with one poised on a velvet cushion. She would return the ping-pong balls creating a visual and sound installation for the 1994 Arte Cidade, in São Paulo. She expanded her table tennis repertoire in Ping-poema para Boris (2000), making use of rackets, nets and ping-pong tables. More recently, in Volume Morto (2015), Barros created another visual and sound installation with ping-pong balls dropping down from a water container onto the tiles of an empty swimming pool as a comment on the drought that was plaguing São Paulo.
Between 1993 and 1996, Barros wrote an experimental weekly column for the newspaper Jornal da Tarde, in São Paulo, entitled “… umas”. She published numerous photo-performances, visual poems, and poetic texts, experimenting with graphic design, and proposing new relationships between text and image, as well as creating dialogues with other artists. She would use many of the initial ideas explored in "… umas" as the starting point for other artworks, going as far as calling the column a "laboratory for many experiences”. Lenora de Barros exhibited the columns in 2014 at Pivô, in downtown São Paulo. There, the artist filmed two new video installations, in which she plays checkers against herself and performs some of the texts written for "… umas".