Beyond the Clay

The Backstory

     If you’ve been following my journey for any length of time, you probably know that my BIG GOAL is to get a handicap accessible studio built.  If you’re unfamiliar with this dream, I wrote about it in three separate posts that you can find here: PART 1, PART 2, PART 3. The accessible studio and how my art has transitioned the last six months play a very big role in the slight rebrand of what my studio will be about.  When I first started focusing on my sculpting, I decided to keep things simple and just go with my name as my brand. Pretty straight forward, right?  Well, as an artist that’s fine. But I realized that “Shawna N.M. Barnes Art Studio” is a mouthful to say if you were to tell someone you were going to take a clay class at my studio! 

     Not only that, but admittedly in an effort to practice what I preach and “make what the people want so I can make what I want”, I began exploring with resin casting.  I found that I actually enjoy it. What is most appealing however, is that even on days when my hands aren’t working well enough sculpt, I can still create because the resin process is less physically demanding on my hands. It has become a win:win that I wasn’t expecting.  With this addition to my art practice however…clay is no longer my SOLE focus.  Clay is definitely my primary focus, but it’s not all I do anymore…

Beyond The Clay

     While all these thoughts of what it is I actually DO in my studio practice swimming around the subconscious…I began opening up and talking to my husband and a handful of trusted colleagues about this idea. In the end, I told my Patreon subscribers my thoughts and posted a poll in the private Facebook group. After explaining my vision, what my goals are for the art studio, I asked for input from them. After about a week, there were a few names that stuck out. Beyond the Clay was one, Because of Clay was another one. Beyond the Clay was a fan favorite. I feel like it really embodies what the focus of my art studio is and will be:

*Working through and finding adaptive solutions to create

*Establishing community events to bring at risk demographics together

*Experimentation with cold finishes and other sculptural elements in my own work

*Continued work with resin

*Teaching a variety of clay (and non-clay) related classes

     And the most important thing for me… is that it creates this subconscious affirmation that I am more than my clay art. I will be the first to tell you that clay saved me for a variety of reasons. It has opened up more doors despite of and because of my disabilities. But it’s not all I am. And that’s an important thing to remember about one’s self… is that we are more than the things we do.

     You may have been wondering why you’ve been seeing this image around the website lately. The hummingbird is part of my new logo for the studio.  It was designed by a good friend of mine, Brandon Guzzardo. Each color was specifically selected to represent parts of me.  The hummingbird in and of itself is symbolic – it is my spirit animal (yes, I loosely adhere to my Indigenous ancestry and beliefs and “walk the red road“. I’ll probably get into that in a future post )

The hummingbird is symbolic for many reasons, but most importantly for me, it is the bringer of joy. It is a constant reminder to find the silver linings and embrace the small moments of every day. The colors selected are personal as well. Teal is the awareness color for myasthenia gravis – a neuromuscular autoimmune disease I have. Purple is the awareness color for epilepsy – at the time of writing this (22 Oct 18) I have been seizure free for 20 months. Green is TBI awareness – my husband is a TBI survivor. in 2016 a dead tree fell on his head.

What's Next

     2018 has been a roller coaster. It’s shown us some great times, and some not so great times. But it has definitely affirmed that my plans for Beyond The Clay are spot on, needed, and confirmed that I’m on the right track. Going forward I plan to:

*continue to work hard with finding and establishing better balance for myself for getting work done in the studio

*pursue speaking engagements so that I can get the word out about my passion for helping others through creative outlets

*be more vulnerable and transparent

*vocalize and encourage Patreon membership – if you didn’t know, funds earned via Patreon are ear marked for my accessible studio build. You can read more about it HERE

*lead classes and workshops to begin to build name recognition in my area

*attend networking events

And hopefully keep writing articles that y’all find entertaining, engaging, and sometimes educational. I hope you are just as excited about seeing Beyond the Clay become a reality as I am! 

     Shawna is a ceramic sculptor and mixed media artist who loves sharing her passion with others. She is a teaching artist and a strong advocate for the arts being accessible to all. Check out her Patreon page HERE for exclusive content, sculpting tips and fun times!