“Painting gives meaning to my existence.”
For female U.S. Army veteran Barbara Barnett, painting provides refuge from the demands of PTSD/MST. Participating in several art therapy programs has enabled Barbara to simultaneously heal herself while creating images that inspire others. Barbara paints strong women warriors—characters imbued with “soul.” She hopes that her creations will spotlight the courage and strength exemplified by fellow female veterans.
Barbara served in the Medical Corp in Germany during the Vietnam War. After returning home, Barbara worked as an organizational consultant for 25 years. Barbara creates portraits of female veterans. She explains, “These warriors represent the many alter egos which come onto the canvas, revealing themselves rather than a conscious intent to paint someone. These women express deep emotions and strength. They come through with their distinctive character and reflect self-empowerment, hope and—sometimes—fearlessness.”
Presently, Barbara is an active member of several art therapy programs targeted at assisting veterans, including the Veteran Artist Program (VAP), Military Experience.org, and the Endowment for Veteran Artists Campaign. Through her participation in these art therapy groups, Barbara has not only created a strong network of support for herself and discovered an effective means of mitigating PTSD/MST, but has also positioned herself to uplift others.
Barbara is devoted to empowering fellow veterans and women through her art. She seeks opportunities to donate commissions from sales of her work to benefit the veteran artist groups to which she belongs, and describes giving back to these organizations purely as a “joy.” Beyond her financial contributions, Barbara’s art in and of itself provides a sense of shared understanding to veteran viewers. The Leedy-Voulkos Art Center featured Barbara’s Women Warriors series in a solo exhibit.
Phoenix-area photographer and friend Kate Payne explains: “Barbara is a talented and humble artist with a passion that runs deeper than any life experience. As a fellow veteran artist, her work provides me with powerful and deep emotions and strength. We have similar life experiences and from my perspective her work emits self-empowerment and fearlessness even when provided in the form of a frightening truth. Barbara’s art provides respite to women and veterans that no therapy or life experiences can duplicate. She has not only shared her experiences in her art but she has shared the most difficult truths that helps her and all veterans see that through art and passion we can recover and live a creative happy life.”
Prints by Barbara Barnett
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