Art Student Spotlight: Michelle Barnette


Photo of Michelle Barnette, the art student being spotlighted this week

Due to the pandemic, many art classes and activities have gone through massive changes, but senior Michelle Barnette, a Bachelor in Arts major, is determined to continue on with her education.

Barnette has experienced many challenges this semester, the main challenge being that she does not have access to the supplies and equipment that she needs to complete her art while she is at home.

“All of my classes pertaining to art have been online,” Barnette said. “I’m supposed to be doing my art show, so the class is online, but I’m still unable to get into the art studio to work on any of my showpieces.”

Barnette typically lives at home and commutes to campus, but not being able to have access to the studio has left her with unfinished ceramic pieces and no way of knowing when she will be able to complete them. She also faced this problem last semester when students were first sent home due to COVID-19.

“I had two incompletes last semester due to the pandemic and not being able to finish any of my claywork. It’s been rough,” she said. “None of my pieces are finished. They are all still unfired, unglazed, and at my house.”

Barnette stated that she is “completely in the dark” regarding when she might be able to complete her artwork. “People are asking me, ‘are you going to get this finished?’ and … I can’t until I can get back into the art studio.”

Beyond not having access to the studio, Barnette has also faced other barriers that come with online learning.

“One of the biggest challenges for me is being able to stay motivated. I live relatively close to campus, and when I was working on my pieces for my show, I would just drive up at nine at night and stay until two in the morning, just working while no one is in there and I can just stay focused by myself.”

The pandemic has also made this impossible. The art studio is only available to Barnette at designated hours, and she has missed having a place to study.

“Right now, my house is very hectic. My sister has moved back, I have a 17 month old niece, dogs are barking…it’s just hard to stay focused.”

Despite all of the downsides that have come with at-home learning, she said that there is at least one silver-lining to being off campus.

“It’s given me better access. I was able to go to Asheville, NC and go to our distribution place where we get our clay and pick out a bunch of different types of glazes. If I had been in class, I wouldn’t have been able to leave … so it’s definitely given me more opportunities.”
Despite the challenges, Barnette is still excited for her upcoming art show.

“My art show is all ceramics. I’m creating original pieces of pinch pottery, and I’m doing those in brownstone. Being able to focus on those, working at home is very different, but it’s very exciting.”

Barnette is still on track to graduate in the spring and hopes to be able to have the traditional graduation ceremony she has worked so hard to earn. She encourages other students to support one another during these trying times.

“Support your fellow art students. Our art shows, we work so hard on them, and now they’re going to be online, and we feel like we’re not getting enough recognition.”

Barnette’s art show, along with her classmate’s, will be available online in November with more details on how to view them being released at a later date.