Kula Corner with JJ Barrows

Heart Space sat down with local, incredibly talented artist JJ Barrows to chat about her journey as an artist, what brings inspires her vision, and how yoga influences her creative process. 

Get ready to feel inspired!

When did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?
I don't know if it was a decision so much as it just happened to me... I guess you could say I was born that way. Art has been oozing out of me for as long as I can remember. I used to get in trouble for coloring on all of the furniture in my house.I loved being in the act of creating or coloring whatever I could get my hands on, but I never thought I was good enough to be an artist (unaware of the fact that I already was one). I let the world define me for most of my life, assuming I just had to "grow up and get serious." But one morning I woke up and realized I was grown up and that this life wasn't a dress rehearsal and if I ever wanted to be who I was created to be, I better start by starting. That was in January of this year and I knew if I wanted to pursue art, I had to go all in, no plan B. It's not as stable as a 9-5, obviously, but the excitement that comes with the unknown makes me feel alive in a way that surviving in the realm of comfortability never could. 

What inspires you?
Truth. I believe it's hard, but it's good, and that even when it hurts, it's worth it to heal. I am inspired to be my true self so that others might feel set free to be their true selves and not live in bondage of what other people think. I want people to know they are loved and valuable just as they are and that they matter. That is the truth... people matter, but most people either don't know or they forget (we all forget things), but I want to be reminded of the truth and I want to remind people of the truth... we all matter, and being who we are matters. 

How does your yoga practice contribute to you as an artist?
Yoga doesn't just challenge my body physically, it challenges me emotionally and spiritually. Yoga reveals a lot to me about my own character.  Yoga teaches me to sit with discomfort, to embrace it and even look at the situation differently... maybe the tension isn't good or bad, maybe it's just there and I can recognize it and still be okay. I'm learning how to address my feelings and the tension that comes with not wanting to create sometimes. While there is certainly a time to step away from a painting, there is also a time to see if you can push past the discomfort of not knowing what to do next and sit with the tension... see what happens when you don't run away... not just in painting or yoga, but in life.

What's your favorite food?
Peanut butter. Absolutely anything that has peanut butter on it. I am currently obsessed with a peanut butter and jelly burger at 50/50. I also love a good kale salad... in part because of how much I love peanut butter (did I mention with chocolate?). Life is all about balance. 

What's your favorite quote?
"I've always liked the time before dawn because there's no one around to remind me who I'm supposed to be, so it's easier to remember who I am." -Brian Andreas. 

I think so much of life is about remembering who we were created to be and living in the freedom of that, and coffee at dawn with my Creator will always be a favorite memory of life on earth. 

Lauren Autenrieth