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Artist loves craft in all forms and media

Posted: July 12, 2017 - 12:55am
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Artist Elizabeth Barnes, left, works to build a castle wall out of clay.
Artist Elizabeth Barnes, left, works to build a castle wall out of clay.

Growing up in Maine, Elizabeth Barnes enjoyed exploring the woods and sea coast. This love of the outdoors had a profound influence on her as a sculptor/artist.

She sees beauty in stone and clay, and works with them to produce art. She also works in a variety of other media, including wood, metal, plaster, oil and acrylic.

As a child, Elizabeth was taught a variety of crafts, such as hooking and braiding rugs, and knitting. She also learned cooking and gardening.

She was encouraged to be creative in every endeavor. She was in the art club at school and took art classes wherever she lived.

In the early 1980s, she was introduced to clay sculpture at a Homemaker Extension summer camp. She was hooked. She began taking ceramics classes at Sandhills Community College in North Carolina, with a goal of learning to sculpt.

A few years later, when she moved to Aiken, she searched out a sculpture class at what was then Augusta College. She paid out-of-state tuition just to attend that one class. She told her professor she would return when the college waived out-of-state tuition.

That happened in 1988. She did return to the college and received her bachelor of fine arts degree with honors in 1992.

After graduation, she worked in other fields while she continued to take clay and bronze classes at Augusta State University. That work included the Aiken mental health association running a drop-in center, then at Tridevelopement Center of Aiken as volunteer coordinator, then in Alabama as a parent advisor.

Moving back to South Carolina, she worked for the Art Factory, teaching after-school programs. Her favorite job was as an artist-in-residence at MCG Children's Hospital, doing art once a week with patients.

While working at these various jobs, "I'd get off work dead tired, take an evening ceramic or bronze class at Augusta College, and in 15 minutes I'd be energized and happy doing art."

In 2003, the artist started a belly casting business, Artful Expectations. She makes casts of the torsos and bellies of pregnant women, and turns them into works of art.

Although she still does the casts when asked, she is also exploring her first love - sculpture - in clay, stone, wood and metal.

She loves art in all its forms, but has always been drawn to sculpting. She remembers sculpting snow figures as a young child and, in kindergarten, creating the life cycle of a frog.
"The process of sculpting is very intuitive for me. I will start the process with one image in mind. As I work, the material forms evolve that inspire me to sometimes change direction to create yet another image. The starting point for the images can be one thing. Then I go with the flow to see what happens," she said.

Barnes has been active in art groups throughout the years, wherever she has lived. Currently, she is active in two art groups - Clay Artists of the Southeast (CASE) and the North Augusta Artists Guild (naartistsguild.org).

She has exhibited in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, receiving several awards.

Her works are found in collections at Duke University, and private collections in the U.S. and England. Her work can be found locally at the Arts and Heritage Center in North Augusta.

 

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