Emma Barnes is a recent VCU graduate with a double major in Gender Studies and Painting and Printmaking, as well as a teacher and active artist in the Richmond community. She will be teaching a basic screen printing class at Studio Two Three on June 14th!
Tell us about the work you have done in relation to Studio Two Three?
I started out as an intern/volunteer at the Studio and generally worked around the studio printing promotional flyers, assisting at workshops, and volunteering as a representative at festivals/gallery events. However, my time working with the studio has been so much more than that! I have learned how to teach workshops and screen print t-shirts. I steamrolled a giant print, and gained so much inspiration from Ashley Hawkins (executive director), board members, volunteers, and artist residents at the studio. So I guess my work at Studio Two Three has been less about “making” work or building a portfolio and more about learning to work in a communal space, support other art makers, collaborate, and care for a place that is not only supporting my work but the work of other local artists in the Richmond community. I met one of my best friends Elisa Rios here and our collaborative work/ friendship has been a significant part of my art practice!
How does Richmond play a role in your work as an artist?
Richmond has a large impact on my work because of the amazing people I have met here that are so active and eager to collaborate. Events like Zinefest have been pretty influential! At Zinefest I have seen artists make what they truly wanted, issuing zines with unique honest personality — almost as if I could read through their zine and feel like I am their friend. It is so genuine and these makers offer them on the table in stacks so many people can get the experience of their zine. I love it! I guess I feel like Richmond has a this indescribable spirit you know? Well, I guess that sounds cheesy but I have seen a lot of things begin in the city since I got here and I am excited to be a part of it or at least get to watch! So, overall the ambition and people of the city have inspired me to not be afraid to be me within my content when I make. Living here has shaped my will to work with others and not be afraid to share my work, to share me.
As a student, what attracted you to becoming so involved with Studio Two Three? Do you suggest more students visit the space and become members?
I knew I wanted to get involved in a place that valued printmaking. I was so excited about their mission to cultivate the printmaking community by making facilities more accessible. This is important because printmaking itself is a medium that creates multiples and makes the dissemination of ideas a reality! Going into art school I was nervous about what career path I would take after college and also concerned about finding a place to make work after I graduated. Studio Two Three offered a community after school and through programs and events it sought to increase awareness about print media and the value of art making.
I highly recommend students to volunteer/intern or become members! Interning is hard work but super worth it. You learn so much! Renting is amazing, especially right now because the studio has been pretty busy. We have a good range of renters — some coming in to do darkroom photography, others like the Chilalay fashion crew printing shirts and clothing for their brand, and some making lithograph, dry points, linocuts. It is pretty amazing, and when you share a space you learn from each other too — share different techniques, secrets, ink, inspiration. I love it! I encourage everyone to check out our open hours and stop by we have a lot of fun!
You’ve been involved with The Richmond City Jail helping to make collaborative zines with both VCU Students and Inmates. Can you tell us about that experience and how you got involved?
I got involved with the Open Minds Program when it was recommended to me by Professor Liz Canfield! At first I was excited to be a part of the poetry reading and sharing in class, but when we made the zines at the end of the class, my love for printmaking hit another level — the significance of the multiple expanded even more. Every time we wrote and shared it was political, not necessarily because of the content but because of the creative act of making yourself and reclaiming you. But then it is also more than your work too! It is about solidarity — cheering each other on, knowing when listening is more important than participating, and participating in zine-making outside of class. So I think that has been a large part of the experience — building myself but offering attentive ears for my peers, reassuring classmates that it wasn’t necessary to apologize before reading because we shouldn’t be ashamed of what we make or who we are. But this is only a small portion of what we do and how important making is ~~ I encourage everyone to look for our zine table at Zinefest! I think reading the work that comes out of the program, better explains what I am talking about and in the act of reading you begin to become a part of this solidarity.
What are your futures plans after school? Do you see yourself staying in Richmond or moving on to other experiences?
I plan to stay in Richmond! I do not feel that my time is done here, and I look forward to getting more involved in the city’s growing art community. I hope to teach workshops at Studio Two Three ~(( I have one in June if you want to learn screen printing! ))~ and I wish to continue making art and going to RCJ.
What upcoming projects can we expect to see from you in the future?
Well, as of now I am mainly just excited to start sharing a studio with Brook Inman! I am looking forward to mono printing, screen printing, and etching at the studio. I am also looking forward to keep collaborating with Elisa Rios. We want to make flags and keep printing on larger scales! Recently we printed on velvet!
I am also participating in a print exchange organized by Stuart Dumais, called REPEAT ACTION: EXCHANGE. Keep your eyes and ears peeled as we will hopefully be showing the exchange series around the city at some point this summer.
Support + Connect with Emma
Come learn basic screen printing at our Second Saturday workshop and hang out with Emma next month! http://bit.ly/1uZsAkv
Recent GSEX graduate, Emma Barns speaks on art, the rad GSWS course Open Minds, and shows her art in our Spring/Summer art show, among other things! Emma was a played a huge part in making the GSWS Spring/Summer art show and discussion panel happen!