Spray painting the town red
UB College Republicans President doubles as a graffiti artist
Alana Barricks isn’t afraid to admit she is the person on Facebook “everyone hates.”
The poised, conservative girl would carry a gun in one hand and spray-paint can in the other. She’s also quick to share her political opinions on Facebook.
“I’m not your average Republican,” said Barricks, a senior political science major and president of UB College Republicans. “I have a ton of tattoos.”
Barricks joined UB College Republicans during her freshman year and is currently in her second term as president. She’s also the secretary of the New York State Federation of College Republicans and was the committee chair of the Black Student Union. Friends and family agree, Barricks isn’t the norm – but she doesn’t want to be.
The graffiti artist and card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) said her biggest challenge as president is that many people regard her as one stereotype. She said politics are often seen as black and white, but there is a lot of room for gray areas.
“The Republican Party has been made out to be the party of ‘old white men’ but that’s simply not true,” Barricks said. “We are always continuing to fight for equality but media rhetoric is always bias.”
In high school, Barricks was part of the speech and debate team, the cheerleading team and sang in a death metal band. Her father said that everyone from jocks to goths loved her.
“She has the ability to adapt to anything,” said Jim Barricks, Alana’s father. “Alana was always the girl who made the new kid in class feel welcomed.”
He said she has always been a “chameleon.”
When Barricks was a child, she wanted to go to Harvard University and become a lawyer. When she got to UB, she saw a future in politics.
But the road wasn’t simple, according to Barricks.
When she decided to declare a political science major, she said she needed to decide if she was a Republican or Democrat. Her mother is a Democrat and her father is a Republican, so she wasn’t raised leaning toward one political party.
During her freshman year, she attended both College Democrat and College Republican meetings. She said many students aren’t involved in politics because they don’t know which party to identify with.
“You have to learn about yourself before you make any decision [about a political party],” Barricks said.
She found her niche when she realized she identified with Republican views on gun rights.
“I’m a self-proclaimed gun-nut and NRA card-carrying member,” Barricks said.
One of her close friends, Minahil Khan, a junior communication and political science major and the student representative to the UB Council, said Barricks “defies all social norms.”
“Alana always stands up for what she believes in,” Khan said. “A lot of students our age get lost in our views, but she doesn’t.”
Barricks often shares her political views on Facebook, but that’s not the only forum she uses to express her opinions.
She also spray paints them to walls.
Khan asked Barricks to “showcase her artistic talent” and be a part of the University Heights graffiti removal project in 2013. Approximately 40 people, mostly UB students, and 13 artists cleaned graffiti off buildings or covered it with larger designs near South Campus.
“Alana was always a creative girl,” her father said. “We weren’t sure about her being a graffiti artist until she sent us pictures of her art and we were amazed.”
Throughout high school, Alana painted using more traditional mediums.
Then, she learned how to spray paint.
She turned to the documentary “Style Wars,” which chronicled graffiti art in the ’80s, for inspiration for the mural. Her piece represented the idea of “war” between artists. She used a different style for each letter in the words “Style Wars.”
Later, however, her piece was painted over with the word “GOKR,” a local graffiti artist’s name and a play on the word “joker.”
“I was upset, but it was perfect that it got painted over,” Barricks said. “It just proves the point about the graffiti wars.”
Barricks also painted the skyline of Buffalo on the side of the pizza shop Slice of Italy on Main Street in a “Queen City” mural.
Barricks’ pieces take two to three hours to complete and she usually won’t do a piece that takes longer than one day.
She sees a connection between graffiti and politics because “a picture is worth a thousand words” and art can make political statements.
“The controversy over graffiti and the fact that it started off as a rebellious movement makes it politics,” she said.
Balancing school, art and politics is a full-time job for Barricks.
On the night before the Nov. 4 elections, Barricks worked from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., wrote two papers, slept for three hours and then got ready for Election Day.
“Alana’s work ethic is ridiculous,” her father said. “It’s difficult … to understand how she balances all of her tasks at once.”
As part of her internship with the Erie County Republican Committee, she helped host an election party in downtown Buffalo where the election results came in.
She acts as a liaison between politics on and off campus, inviting guest speakers and local politicians to campus. In honor of Local Politics Month in October, Barricks brought Jacob Bratek, a candidate for New York States Assembly, Angela Wozniak, a member of the Cheektowaga Town Board, Assemblyman Raymond Walter and Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer to a club meeting.
This year, Barricks is ensuring members of UB College Republicans attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. from Feb. 26-28 for the first time in three years. Political figures like Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney will also be at the conference.
From graffiti to politics, Barricks has found what she loves. She said once you find what you’re really passionate about, the rest will come easy.
“I just hope to see her heavily involved in politics because she’s so passionate about her beliefs,” her father said.
Whether she moves to Arizona to live with her parents, joins the NRA in Virginia, moves to Albany to work in state politics or is spray painting buildings, you’ll probably be able to read about it on her Facebook.