At a new art exhibit in Decatur, you’ll see art made from discarded items — including thread spools, pill bottles, tin cans, bird nests, and more — arranged in a beautiful and organic way. Trace Barnett, a lifestyle blogger, author, and TV personality, is turning trash into treasure at his debut art exhibit at the Carnegie Visual Arts Center. Barnett, a native of Brilliant, Alabama, runs the blog The Bitter Socialite and has appeared on the Food Network as part of Food Network Star and Comeback Kitchen.
The art exhibition, named “White Trash,” is on display until November 13 and showcases Barnett’s collection of more than 60 works of art made from repurposed materials and found objects. In his signature pieces, Barnett utilizes manmade items — sometimes literally found in the trash — such as paper, chicken wire, makeup, and old cell phones combined with natural objects such as branches, moss, and egg shells. He arranges the objects on canvas and pours white paint over to secure them, giving the pieces their cheeky name.
“I believe in utilizing industrial materials to create beautiful artwork that blurs the lines between organic and inorganic so that they seamlessly flow together,” Barnett says. “I feel it is equally important to highlight the integrity of the existing space while salvaging original components and rethinking them in a new and innovative manner. White paint symbolizes purity, giving a fresh outlook to discarded materials and therefore creating a symbolic item from trash.”
In addition to the White Trash pieces, the exhibit also includes complementary works, including a colorful birthday cake made from spray foam; graffiti-style paintings; and cultural statement pieces.
“There is a very personal and intimate approach that I take when working with objects from a specific place or person,” Barnett says of his work. “It’s about respecting what exists while finding a unique way to showcase it in a new light. Great artwork comes from self-confidence, cultivating the eye, and a natural common sense about living life. It’s about finding beauty at every turn and creating something that draws the eye towards it.”
The Carnegie Visual Art Center is open Tuesday – Saturday, and admission to the exhibit is free.
Julia Sayers Gokhale is a writer and editor who has been working in the lifestyle journalism industry since 2012. She was Editor in Chief of Birmingham Magazine for five years and is now leading Yellowhammer News’ lifestyle content. Find her on Instagram at @juliasayers or email her at email@example.com.