WK.5 ARTIST CONVO- ft. Emily Anne Barnett


Artist: Emily Anne Barnett


Media: printmaking, lithograph, with paintings and painting elements

Gallery: Merlino

Social Media: Instagram- emily_b_anne


Emily Anne Barnett is a graduate student here at California State University Long Beach, with a focus in printmaking and an added element in painting. After completing her graduate program, Barnett would ultimately like to become a teacher or professor of the arts. Barnett struggled with an anxiety disorder in her youth but now uses that experience as fuel for many of her pieces. This specific collection is meant to appear childlike to directly represent that time of her life.


Barnett’s exhibition was a series of prints based off a childhood portrait of her self in a constant state of anxiety. The series of three expresses different stages of Barnett’s childhood and how her anxiety was effecting her at that time. Barnett explained that at first the portrait was just a print job within its self but then she decided to add the paint as  a way to “explore a visual language of experiences with mental illness.” Barnett maintained the same base image of her childhood portrait but changed the back image and colors in order to change the story of the painting. The painting element provided an abstract look to the print work and helped depict a specific emotion of Barnett at that time.


Barnett intended for this exhibition to “visualized [her] experiences with mental illness” and made the art intentionally childlike in order to make a more “visual connection to childhood and by this evoke experiences relating to or connected to childhood.” In the first picture (top) Barnett is pictured hugging a teddy bear as her sister points a ridiculing finger at her.  The teddy bear is seen throughout all the painting in this exhibition, Barnett described it as a type of “security blanket,” similar to the blanket that Linus carried around. In then next picture (middle) Barnett is again pictured with the teddy bear but now it is the main focus, as if it is the only thing that is helping her cope with her anxiety. The last picture (bottom) maintains the same base image but this time there is much more color and abstract lines. Barnett described the last picture as her becoming “free” of the burden that is her anxiety.


I chose Barnett’s exhibition this week because i can directly relate to her story and felt an unexpected connection to the pictures. I too had an anxiety disorder throughout elementary and middle school, and these paintings really hit home, especially after talking to Barnett. I first walked through the exhibition and just admired all the pieces and thought they were really interesting but after talking to Barnett and walking through a second time i looked at them through a different pair of eyes, with a different perspective. I viewed the paintings not as Barnett, but as my elementary school self and saw so much more. I was brought back to how i felt and the constant nervous and worried state i knew all too well, but eventually learning how to cope and move on from that stage of my life. I like how Barnett’s pictures depict a series of growth and change throughout her years, how she never let the anxiety take over her and eventually was able to free herself from the burden.


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