"Summer in Georgia with no A.C." by Bea Barnes.

June’s Healing Arts illustrates artist’s belief that ‘art is essential to helping the human condition’

Every month a local artist volunteers their time and work to bring some art to the Augusta University Medical Center.

Through the Healing Arts program, health care providers, patients and their families have the opportunity to see new art exhibits that vary in theme, medium, size and inspiration.

Organized through the Office of Volunteer Services and Engagement, the Healing Arts program was developed to help heal through beautiful visual and musical art.

This month, Bea Barnes is the featured artist for the Healing Arts Gallery Wall, showcasing her work inspired by her environment and loved ones.

While most of her pieces are similar in size, there is a self-portrait that sits in the center of the exhibit, drawing the eyes of whoever walks by.

Titled “Summer in Georgia with no A.C.” the large self-portrait pulls inspiration from both art history and her environment, having chosen her mother’s living room for added comfort.

“It is an impressive size, and I think that makes people want to stop and look at it in closer detail — smaller pieces can be beautiful, but larger pieces demand more attention,” Barnes said. “That was the first time I worked at that scale and the first full body portait I drew.”

Barnes’ work is reflective of her interest in both modern and classical studies but she gravitates more toward modern art in her work.

“I am most often interested in portraiture and finding ways to make the individual artistically interesting,” Barnes said. “Of the pieces I put up, two were of my best friend, one was of my boyfriend and another was my cat. People are much more interesting, and I’m interested in my loved ones most of all.”

Three of Barnes’ pieces are made from woodblock acrylics, which were created using what she called “mild abstraction,” but she explains that the work in creating an abstract piece that is also aesthetically pleasing can prove to be complicated.

“The proportions of our faces and the vibrant colors are attempts at abstraction,” Barnes said, discussing the woodblock acrylics of her best friend, cat and two self-portraits. “I’ll let the viewer decide if they are successful.”

An avid reader, researcher and creator, Barnes began her career at Augusta University as a cell and molecular biology major but found her calling in art therapy.

“I was a science and math nerd, but college has a way of making you try new things,” Barnes said. “I switched on a whim of sorts after a grueling semester. I decided I would take one art class to relax, and it turned into a career aspiration.”

It was this new career goal of becoming an art therapist that led Barnes to the Healing Arts program.

“I was fortunate enough that my program let me know that there was an opportunity to volunteer my work at the hospital,” Barnes said. “Everyone can benefit from looking at art, whether it’s something they find pleasing or unsettling; it makes you think and feel. Art is essential to helping the human condition.”

Although relatively new to the title “artist,” Barnes also has an upcoming show at the Jessye Norman School of Arts next year and is looking toward the future.

“I want to be an art therapist, which means grad school, but I’m lucky that AU has two programs I could use to get to that career,” Barnes said. “I love art, and I want to help others benefit from using it to heal.”

The exhibit is located on the second floor of Augusta University Medical Center by the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.

If you or someone you know is interested in displaying their talents at AU Medical Center, please contact Jessica Tang or call 706-721-3596.

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Emily Lacey
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Emily Lacey

Emily Lacey is a writer in the Division of Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-6144 elacey@augusta.edu.

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Emily Lacey Written by Emily Lacey

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University and AU Health. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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