North Charleston Arts Festival Reveals 2012 Design Competition Winner

"My Muse" by Elena Barna

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce 'My Muse,' an acrylic painting by Elena Barna, as the winner of the 2012 North Charleston Arts Festival Design Competition. 

As the winner of the statewide competition, Barna’s original design will be used to promote the 2012 North Charleston Arts Festival, taking place May 4-12. In addition, the piece will become part of the City of North Charleston’s Public Art Collection. 

Barna gathers inspiration from the Impressionism and Post-impressionism art movements, as well as Art Nouveau, and cites Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Monet, Degas, and Alphonse Mucha as artists she admires. Preferring to work in acrylic and oil, her work features vivid colors, thick application of paint, distinctive brush strokes, and realistic subject matter, mainly people. Form and color are central to her aesthetic and shimmering surfaces and rich dabs of paint characterize her paintings. Her art is an emotional vision of the world.  She uses color as a means to express feelings about a subject or her memories – a way to express emotion and communicate to the viewer a spiritual message.

Born in 1987 in Volgograd, Russia, Elena Barna began her art education in high school.  She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Art Education from Volgograd State University of Education in Russia.  In 2008, Elena came to Charleston to work for the summer and learn about life in America.  To her surprise, she fell in love with the city, the Carolina Lowcountry, and resident Josh Barna.  After returning home to complete her education and the long process of legal immigration, Elena and Josh were married following her return to Charleston in 2009.  She currently lives and works in North Charleston with Josh and their bull mastiff, Phoenix.

An exhibition of Elena’s work will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery throughout the month of May. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Gallery hours are 9:00am-5:00pm daily and admission and parking are free. The public is invited to meet the artist at the gallery on May 5 and 6 during the Main Event of the North Charleston Arts Festival. T-shirts and posters featuring the winning design will be available for sale.

For more information about the North Charleston Arts Festival, or other competition and exhibition opportunities, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at (843) 740-5854, email, or visit the Cultural Arts section of the City’s website at

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