Beat From the Street (November 18, 2015)

Andria Paige Barlow, 20, junior art and management student, originally from Terrell, N.C.

How would you describe your style? 

“I kind of consider myself too broke to really pursue my style. Being an art major, I just wear a whole bunch of comfort clothes, especially now when I’m painting all the time. You’ll see me in jeans and sweats and I usually wear tank tops with jeans and sweatpants. And even in the winter, I’ll usually wear a tank top and sometimes I’ll put a sweater on over that under my jacket, but when I get indoors, I take it right off. I just walk around in a tank top all day.”

If you were to say creatively the names of things that inspire you, what would you say? 

“Well, I don’t know. I listen to a lot of, you wouldn’t really think it, I guess you would if you talked to me, but if you looked at me, you wouldn’t, I listen to a lot of really rambunctious bullshit. Yeah. I listen to a lot of hype music. I don’t know.”

In terms of an artistic aesthetic, how would you describe your artwork?

“My style of work? I don’t really like pop art very well. Well, it’s not that I don’t like pop art or new style, because I don’t really do it a whole lot. I really like baroque-style paintings, really dramatic things. I really like the baroque style in that there’s a whole lot of contrast fixated on that one subject or action. I have a free style that I do more baroque kind of stuff. I’ve always tried, like even as a kid, to do more realistic but I could never do it. I’ve just come to accept this. I like to do a lot of female figures. One of my favourite mediums is chalk pastels. It’s not very commonly appreciated. People hate them.”

Chalk is cool. There’s a really whimsical element to it. 

“Well, I had an art teacher in high school. She got a charcoal set that an art supply store had sent her on accident instead of what she actually wanted. She reimbursed her. She knew that my family was broke growing up.  My mom had multiple cancer diagnoses and five kids in the house, so it was kind of strapped. We were always real tight. She just let me have that whole set. I spent that whole summer experimenting with chalk. I got really good at it. I sold a couple pieces in high school for $250 apiece.”

That’s awesome. That’s really exciting. 

“Yeah. I was making commission off of works when I was like, 14, 15 and the first piece that I ever did for commission outside the family was a memorial piece for a two-week baby. I didn’t know when I got the reference pictures that, one, I would be getting those reference pictures that day and, two, that three of those reference pictures were taken from the baby’s casket.”

That’s harsh.

“Yeah. It was kind of rough to get real up-close-and-personal with those pictures.”

That’s really sobering.

“Yeah. That was my first one, but oh my God, they loved it.”

Isabelle Vacher, 51, medical education developer, originally from Tampa/St. Petersburg 

How would you describe your style, this look in particular that you have going on today?

“Uh, I don’t even…me?”

That’s awesome.

“Edgy, fun, quirky.”

That’s perfect. It’s very Debbie Harry-meets-Cyndi Lauper but if Cyndi Lauper was like Siouxsie Sioux in terms of clothing. 

Being involved in the medical field, how do you see art if that makes sense? How do you stay creative? Because the medical field doesn’t seem like a very creative industry.

“Yeah. Well, it’s not. It’s very, I mean, so my fiance is a musician. I’m a huge art collector. I surround myself with art. I love pop surrealism.”

Oh yes! Like Warhol and Lichtenstein?

“Well, I collect a lot more of contemporary, like Mab Graves. I just stay very embedded in the music community, yeah, yeah, and art community.”

What type of musician is your husband?


Like classic rock? Or garage rock?

“No, death metal.”

Oh, wow. That’s very specific.


If you were to say what inspires you creatively, besides art, in terms of literature, music or fashion icons, who else would you say?

“Um, I would say, I love Betsey Johnson.”

Oh my god. Yes. That makes sense.

“As kind of a designer, if I were to pick someone, it would probably be her, although I don’t necessarily collect designers. You know, I just kind of collect what I like in terms of clothes. I would say for art, you know, again, I just love very much the pop surrealism and more of the contemporary pop surrealism. So that is very inspirational to me. I love surrounding myself with that. We moved here because this environment inspires me. I love the creative energy here. I love that it’s surrounded by the beautiful mountains. Yeah, yeah!”

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. It is pretty creative here for a small town in North Carolina I would think. How long ago did you move here? 

“Just seven months ago.”

So if you were to cite a personal motto that you live by on a daily basis, what would you say?

“A personal motto. You know everybody has those, don’t they? They have them on their Facebook page, and I’ve just come to this point in my life at 51 where I can’t do that anymore because it’s always changing.

Maybe that’s your personal motto: “It’s always changing.”

“You know, everything is always changing. I think one of the most important things to me is always being around fresh perspectives and being open to fresh perspectives and that changes mottoes all the time. I don’t have one.”

Why are you in the medical field? What makes you want to stay? Why are you passionate about it?

“Yeah. So, I was a nurse for 10 years, and then I got out of nursing and am a writer. So I was a medical writer initially after being a nurse for many, many years and that just really transitioned into developing continuing medical education. Now, I work with a company where I liaison with the pharmaceutical companies and I write grants and I design education. So, but at the end of the day, I’m a nurse at heart. So, I care. What keeps me inspired with my profession is my love of patience, my love of science and then of oncology. So, you know, cancer teaches everyone.”

And what is next for you? What are you looking forward to in the future?

“Oh gosh, you know, just living life with that guy over there and this dog, just, you know, trying to really live at this point in my life like every day really matters, like, you know, life is special and precious and embracing just who I am, which takes a long time to do, you know, for us people.”


“So I’m kind of at this point in my life where I’m finally just where it all fits and I’m comfortable and, you know, I truly am comfortable. I’m not just saying I’m comfortable, so just continuing to live like that. Because actually it takes a while to get there, so I’m hoping that I have enough years left to enjoy that.”

This column was originally published in The Blue Banner