MCC nationally acclaimed artist stumbled into her profession by accident

Mesa Local community Higher education interim president Lori Berquam (still left) provides the Excellent Adjunct College Award to Malena Barnhart for her determination to critical considering as expressed by means of her art. — MCC image

Though growing up in smaller-town Maryland, Malena Barnhart experienced very little exposure to artwork or art instruction.

She was into girly stickers and disposable cameras, established a prevent-movement animation showcasing her Barbie dolls, and later wrote and mailed out a teenager fan journal.

But Barnhart planned to be a author or a attorney since she enjoyed the thrust-and-pull of opposing principles.

“It was not till I was in college that I variety of stumbled into artwork,” the Tempe girl stated. “I did not notice it was notion centered.”

Now on faculty at Mesa Local community College, Barnhart’s commitment to important considering is amongst the explanations she not too long ago obtained an MCC Superb Adjunct College award.

The awards identify faculty that promote inclusion and variety, use technological know-how to increase college student finding out and demonstrate encouragement, treatment and respect to college students, team and educating peers.

Barnhart, who teaches digital pictures and digital photographic imaging, also was lauded for emphasizing empathy in art generation. She joined the school in 2014, a 12 months immediately after earning a Master of Fine Arts in images from ASU.

Barnhart was nominated by MCC adjunct faculty Ted Decker, a longtime advocate of visible arts and artists who co-founded the Phoenix Institute of Modern Art and is its director and curator. Decker teaches artwork history and experienced methods programs, and been given an MCC Fantastic Adjunct Faculty award in 2020.

“Malena does considerable research and has a myriad of strategies which manifest themselves in her artwork and in her vivid apply,” he claimed. “Her college students discuss about how amazing a trainer she is. I admire her for currently being centered on her college students and on college student discovering.”

In addition, Decker explained, Barnhart is outstanding in the college student art group, frequently inviting pupils to collaborate on her personal function, and she is a new breed of instructor.

“She’s a wonderful individual, she’s energetic, revolutionary, and another person who cares about her students and their practice and growth,” he said.

The award was unanticipated, but so meaningful, Barnhart explained, specially due to the fact Decker nominated her.

“He is one particular of many instructors I want to model myself following since he’s this kind of a selfless man or woman and does so numerous functions of kindness,” she stated.

Barnhart’s get the job done has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions regionally, nationally and internationally, and it has been given many accolades.

“I used to feel that artwork creating was artwork building, but the major realization is that I’m slipping into black holes (on the World-wide-web), and which is element of my art follow,” she claimed.

Barnhart makes use of repurposed cultural components, a wide range of discovered items and footage like children’s stickers, YouTube video clips, social gathering decorations and teen posters.

“I worth the skill to make get the job done that is angry, critical and not usually rather,” she reported.

Barnhart’s function centers on the procedure of enculturation and its function in perpetuating dangerous gender norms. Her site,, capabilities her movies, installations and 2-D will work that issue supposed messages.

“We study our lifestyle from what we eat, irrespective of whether a single is consuming princess toys, movie online games or Pinterest wedding boards,” she writes.

MCC just lately promoted her to residential college status. The great range of art pupils at the school — from age and backgrounds to training and encounters — would make it a fulfilling location to teach, Barnhart mentioned.

“The edge is being in course with men and women who are various from you and assume in different ways than you,” she mentioned.

“The intriguing, personal conversations we have in the classroom feed into my observe and make me a superior human being. It is so exciting to be in a area complete of people nerding out about art and to discuss about it for three hours.”

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