Julessa Barnes grew up in agricultural California. On small farms in the Central Valley, she watched the men and women of her family make objects, both decorative and functional. These influential people in her life were painters, quilters, bakers, firemen, policemen, deep-sea fishermen, welders, carpenters and blacksmiths. They helped to shape her identity as a strong, independent woman. She credits her natural ability in metals to the artists in her lineage. Despite her business studies and early career in finance and investments, Julessa landed in metalwork in 2004 and has pursued this passion ever since.
Julessa is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate with an emphasis in Jewelry and Metal Arts at Academy of Art University. In 2015, she won “Best in Category” in the Academy’s Spring Show for her ring series titled “The Hunt.” The Society of North America Goldsmiths chose her piece, “Heart Armor,” to walk the runway during their annual Exhibition in Motion in Portland, Oregon, in May 2018. Currently, she is awaiting publication of JaMS: Jewelry and Metals Survey 2018 in which her project of hand engraved motorcycle tailpipes will be featured. She plans to finish her thesis project titled “Identity” in the Spring of 2019 and continue to exhibit her work.