I have been a studio artist since 2011. From the moment my hands touched clay, I knew I’d found my calling. Clay is forgiving. It takes on a new form with each touch, moving from a lump of clay to an expression of various human emotions and experiences. It has given me a voice. A way to communicate my message to the world. Hi. My name is Shawna Barnes, a "differently-abled" veteran that served as a combat medic in Iraq, and I have PTSD. The stigma associated with PTSD and disabled veterans in general is very real. My goal, is that my sculptures that speak about the Veteran experience become the doorway to open discussion on tough and/or controversial and often ignored topics. Thoughtful, informed, and emotion provoking discussion will help us all relate to one another on new levels, in my opinion.
Not all of my sculptures deal with the Veteran experience. Most of them, as a matter of fact, do not. The simple act of sculpting is enough of a cathartic experience for me. My hope is that ALL my sculptures inform and educate in some way, shape, or form. My "Animals of War" series, as an example, has sculptures that are inspired by actual historical animals of war (such as Smokey the Yorkie), some are based on the specific job an animal performed and not a specific animal (like the ambulance dog), and others yet are inspired by completely mythological creatures of war. If a single one of my sculptures is able to help one side understand the others’ point of view, or at least see it in a new light; then I will consider it a success.
My inspiration comes from the world around me, both real and surreal.
I work primarily in white stoneware clay that matures at cone 6 (2232 °F). I find that this allows me to create what I imagine, including delicate portions of my sculpture, while providing the structural strength that is required. I have transitioned to using mostly cold finish techniques on my sculptures. Cold finishes are those that do not require the piece to be fired in the kiln.
The cold finish techniques I use are:
One of the best parts about being an artist...is that I am ALWAYS learning. As I continue to develop my own techniques, I find myself wanting to experiment to see how far I can push the boundaries of what I'm doing. In the coming months I'll be experimenting with using oil pastels, oil paint, encaustics, colored pencil, copic/sharpie markers, wood stain, india inks, and whatever else I can get my hands on.