Senior art and marketing major Allyson Barker showed her solo exhibition Oct. 28, which will be available for viewing until Nov. 22 in the art gallery located in the Fine Arts Center.
Chairperson for the Fine Arts Department Andrew Heisey has worked closely with Barker and said he is excited about her growth as a student.
“This year I have been impressed with her leadership skills, as she continues to work with the Art Club and is stirring up student discussions about art and its benefits to our student culture,” Heisey said.
Barker was drawn to Waynesburg University’s art department because of the care the professors provide their students. Barker said Heisey has been an advisor, mentor and friend to her during her time here.
“It’s clear they want us to be the best we can be. No matter what an idea is, Heisey does his best to make sure we have the materials and tools to see an idea through,” Barker said. “Heisey has made a positive impact in my life as a student, as an artist and in my faith. Heisey does a great job working with, and getting to know each of the art majors and works with them and their interests so that each of us can reach our full potential.”
To prepare for a senior art show, students build their portfolio over their four years at Waynesburg and include many of those pieces; however, Barker included many new pieces in her show as well.
“Most art majors will make a new piece or two during the semester before their art exhibits are scheduled to start, but she has made many never-before-seen drawings just for this display,” Heisey said.
Barker said developing her technical skills has been her main focus in previous years, and she has seen definite growth in her work. Although she has gained confidence as an artist in these areas, that is not the main focus of her gallery.
“Most of the work in my show was made in the last year and even then, mostly in the last few months,” Barker said. “My work is very people-centric right now. I have been working on a lot of portraits of my friends, so there are several familiar faces in the show,” Barker said.
Barker believes mainstream media promotes a narrow definition of beauty and is attempting to combat that mindset with her work.
“I’ve been honing in on the idea of beauty and trying to push back against the traditional ideas of what defines beauty. The media has a very narrow view of what qualifies someone as beautiful. I disagree with this,” Barker said. “I think that imperfections make humanity beautiful, and I want to show that in my art now and moving forward.”
While Barker has had her art in shows before, having a gallery solely hers creates more vulnerability.
“Artists, including myself, put little pieces of ourselves into our art. Having a show like this is baring part of our soul to the world to judge,” Barker said.
Heisey is looking forward to Barker’s potential after graduation.
“I never know where students will go after they leave WU, but I have no doubt that Ally will find the perfect situation, where she can work in the art field, either supporting the sale of her own artwork or working with another artist or art community to enrich our world,” he said.
Heisiey coined the term “Artrepreneurial” business mindset to describe Barker’s personal skill set.
“She has always been a very driven student with a goal in mind to excel in her artwork and has the mind for business needed in artists working today,” Heisey said.
While Barker herself is still figuring out exactly what her future looks like, she is looking forward to the possibilities.
“My dual degree with marketing gives me a good amount of options. I’m looking for a job in the food industry with my marketing degree to pay the bills,” Barker said.
Barker’s Senior Art Show is free and open through Nov. 22. To check out more of her artwork, follow her professional Instagram, @artistallybarker.