Featured Students

CHFA Featured Student: Elaina Barnett


  • Name: Elaina Barnett
  • Year: Senior
  • Age: 20
  • Major: BFA in Studio Art with enhanced Art History and an emphasis in Drawing and Sculpture
  • Hometown: Shelbyville, KY
  • Quirky Fact: I have a cat named Aoife (ee-fah) who has no tail, likes to climb on everything and has a special superhero pose where she jumps up on her hind legs with her front legs outstretched as though she could take off at any second.
  • Favorite thing to eat on campus: California Rolls (Sushi)
  • Best movie you’ve seen recently: Seven Deadly Psychopaths
  • Favorite thing you got for Christmas: A Blender
  • Favorite book: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


Tell us about yourself.

I am currently part of the Honors program and am getting ready to become part of the BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) program in the MSU Art Department. I am a Student Ambassador of the Art and Design Department, president of OMAS (Organization of Murray Art Students), a university worker in the Art and Design office, and a volunteer worker at the Clara Eagle Gallery. Additionally, I have completed a one month study abroad program in the Czech Republic.

 What made you come to Murray State?

It’s a good distance from home (Shelbyville). Just far enough to have some freedom but close enough to drive home for visits. Mostly though, it is because I had a personal tour with Dr. ZB Smetena (Chair of the Art Department). He introduced me to the professors and after talking to him for a while, having that personal connection, and seeing the facilities, I was determined to come here.  I was inspired by everything I saw.

 What was your last big project?

Recently, I’ve started to explore art that is performative, or that involves participation with the audience – it becomes an art object with interaction through the audience. I’m very interested in the theme of connectivity. One of the more straightforward ways to explore that is to explore the connection between different people and the layering of experiences.

I made two works at the end of last semester that began to explore these ideas. I made a drawing that was made of a collection of eight pieces of paper, each representing a conversation. I would present two people with a piece of paper and red paint, and asked them to put paint somewhere on their skin and make marks while I recorded them having a conversation. Later, I listened to the conversation, and reacted to it and drew on top of it as a documentation of my experience in reaction to their experience.

I also made a sculpture – a metal structure covered in fabric: on the inside you could see strings, and I left a note, string and scissors and asked people to tie things to the inside while sitting on the pillowy nest I had made inside the structure. It was all about people leaving impressions of themselves that other people could have a connection to.

I want to find a better way to perfect the aesthetic of the objects, and find a better dialogue between me and the person I’m involving. I want to make them collaborators.

Who have you enjoyed working with?

During the last semester I took Dr. Antje Gamble’s class, Performance Art History and it really was a catalyst for defining and solidifying my interests. It made me realize I wanted to start involving other people and focus more on performative art.

 Favorite artists?

Last semester I really started to enjoy Yoko Ono and her writings, especially when it comes to her performative work. In terms of drawing, my professor, Dale Leys’ drawings and the meditative and detail oriented quality they have really influenced me.

I’m also really interested in philosophy, because philosophy, psychology, and spirituality all speak about the universal human experience that expand past just our current historical context. Ever since I took Honors Literature and Philosophy with Dr. Andy Black, I’ve wanted to explore more of that.


2 thoughts on “CHFA Featured Student: Elaina Barnett

  1. Boring academic fact: Elaina Barnett’s faculty acquaintance, Dr. Jeff Osborne, hopes she signs up for his Seminar in Literature and Philosophy II in Prague 2016.

    Totally-Obvious-to-Anyone-Who-Knows-Elaina fact: She is terribly smart and creative and Murray State needs more students like her.


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