Hello everyone! For those of who are new to my pages, my name is Julessa Barnes and I have been a practicing metalsmith for about 13 years now! My journey started as a hobby and has now turned into a full-time career.
About 4 1/2 years ago I decided it was time to get serious about becoming a metal artist, so I enrolled in the online program for a master’s degree in Jewelry and Metal Arts at Academy of Art University (AAU). At the time I didn’t know exactly where this decision would lead, but today I can say it has taken me to a lot of places I never dreamed of going. I have met wonderful instructors, advisors and friends along the way and I will treasure the journey I’ve had for the rest of my life. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I kept pushing myself to do more with each semester and today, I am a graduate with a Master’s Degree in Fine Art with an emphasis in Jewelry and Metal Arts!
I get to spend every day coming up with new work ideas, fabricating my imagined pieces and finally showing them in public. So far, I have had pieces on exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, have had work published in the Society of North American Goldsmith’s (SNAG) book JaMS 2018 (Jewelry and Metals Survey), walked a runway piece in the 2018 Exhibition in Motion for SNAG, have been a featured artist in the February 2019 RAW Artists’ Showcase, I have had several of my pieces on exhibit at the Spring Show at AAU in 2015, 2018 and 2019 and in various galleries in San Francisco, California. Whew! That’s a lot in the last few years that certainly would not have happened had I not taken the plunge to get my master’s degree.
Where do I work? Well, I am in Lincolnton, North Carolina — a very small town just west of Charlotte. This is the actual place I work every day — well the main place where I work. I have a small private studio based out of my home and I love coming in to the studio to think, make and experiment. This is my happy place!
Yes, that’s a Santa Cruz, California sticker on the bench. I was born there and spent a significant amount of my childhood and adult life there before moving to North Carolina. I still have family in the area and love to visit whenever I make it back to Cali. As a matter of fact, I have driven solo from NC to CA at least 8 times in the last 13 years and have had some amazing adventures along the way. I figured it out, I only have about 9 states left, including Alaska before I can say I’ve been to every state in the country!
My plans now?! Well, I’m glad you asked… I have so many, where to begin? First, I am taking a little hiatus from making to decompress from the years of school and the incredibly tight deadlines. Not a long break, but at least a couple of weeks. I graduated officially on May 25th and have spent the time since then trying to finish up the last of the custom work on my bench that has been waiting for me to finish classes this semester. This week, I will finish that work and then take a week or so off to recouperate, reconnect with my family and do some serious motorcycle riding! I’ve missed going on those twisty mountain roads in the middle of the week to catch my soul up with nature.
After a little break, I will begin work on the continuation of pieces from my thesis work I’ve been sketching over the last couple of weeks. I’ll share some of that progress along the way. I am really excited about the direction of this work and I can’t wait to get back to work on them. I have a couple of exhibitions coming up in late September and late October, so I will have some prep work to do for those as well. I will keep everyone posted on the details as I get them.
As for the studio itself, it will continue to be a private studio, but I do have plans to create lots of videos, tutorials and even some downloadable tutorials. I’m also working on developing a series of workshops to be held at my local community college to get the most out of my teaching. As each of these goals are met, I’ll make sure to keep everyone posted.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy a little bit of time to recharge and organize my next goals. So, I leave you with this gorgeous picture of the beautiful flowers I received from a dear friend for graduation! They are from her personal garden and are so lovely! Have a wonderful summer and come back to visit!