Artist: Emily Barnett
Exhibition: Recent Works on Paper
Gallery: Dr. Maxine Merlino Gallery
Emily Barnett, originally from Northern California, is currently a CSU Long Beach student enrolled in and loving the Printmaking program. However before studying at CSULB, Barnett previously attended Humboldt State University where she began her artwork that focuses on the struggle she’s faced while coping with mental illness. The amount of work that goes into every single one of her pieces is extensive and the process can take anywhere from a couple of days to almost a month to create.
In her exhibit, Barnett had several drawn and painted prints in dark frames that severely separated the prints from the white walls. All of the pictures were hand-drawn and painted, most portraying her as a child holding her teddy-bear as a sense of security. Each picture, although based on the innocence of Barnett as a child, is painted uniquely giving each an individual work of art its own tone and impression. While some of the prints in the beginning of the exhibit were colored in perfectly, they gradually became more splattered and unruly to illustrate the conflict with mental illness.
In Emily Barnett’s exhibit, she strives to show her audience the feelings she has experienced through dealing with the obstacles presented by her mental illness. When speaking of her work, Barnett expressed how her pieces are based on her personal experiences with her condition and how she wanted to shed light on this subject by illustrating her emotions throughout the stages of her life. She stated how she purposefully chose to have her young childhood self as the base of her prints to keep the pieces innocent and light while still illustrating the pain through the expression in her eyes and the almost chaotic brush strokes of paint.
Personally, I found it hard yet inspiring to see and hear of Barnett’s story with mental illness as it made me completely admire her bravery in sharing her experiences with the world. My father struggles with mental illness and has expressed his frustration in how helpless and alone you feel suffering through a mental issue and experience no one else can truly understand. As mental illness runs through my family, it was increasingly hard hearing Barnett’s story and seeing her struggle knowing my father feels the same way. I was in awe however at how much courage it must take for Barnett to share her own story with strangers and how even though she has suffered so much, she still is optimistic and empowered in her fight to inform people of the struggle with mental illness she and others face every day.