South Carolina Arts Commission

Arts Directory

Emma Barnes




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Emma Barnes is a multi-disciplinary artist born in South Carolina in 1992. She was raised in the rural countryside of Islandton, South Carolina. From 2008 to 2010, Barnes attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities to study visual art. In 2014, she graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in Painting & Printmaking and a double major in Gender Studies. In May 2022, Emma graduated with an MFA in Painting, Drawing and Photography in the Alfred/ Düsseldorf program. In 2019 Barnes attended Athena Standards, an artist residency in Athens, Greece. In November 2022 she plans to exhibit work in a group show at Montgomery College. Growing up in rural South Carolina continues to influence her investigation of materials and motifs. Guided by metaphors and wordplay that exist between nature and human experience, Emma investigates ideas of landscape, self, and time by linking poetics in her motifs, process, and materials. She explores the porous nature of plaster to create work that resembles artifacts or fossils. Emma is drawn to plaster’s shift from liquid to solid because the transformation parallels cycles of nature as well as changes in her own personal growth.