Nena Escobar was born in Caracas, Venezuela, but grew up in Washington, D.C. surrounded by a supportive family of artists. Crafting and making art is what she naturally gravitated to and was most content doing even as a small child; she was always busy making things. In the summer of 1979 after graduating from high school, she took several drawing and painting classes at the Corcoran School of Art and her first ceramic class. Although she loved it, it was always to be what she thought; a side note.

She went to Maryland Institute College of Art, graduating in 1986 with a BFA in painting. After graduating from MICA she moved to Northern California and set up a painting studio. Unsuccessful at making a living as an artist, she would find employment in various art related jobs. She was an assistant to a studio potter, fabricated acrylic jewelry, and a manager of a small craft gallery, all the while finding a means to make pots.

She was to meet her husband Andrew Barnett, a shipwright, and marry in 1992. She moved to South Florida where her husband resided, and found a job hand-painting fabrics and faux interior finishes. Nena again was to try to find a place to make pots. She enrolled in a class at Florida Atlantic University in 1997. Inspired by the instructors: John McCoy, and the support of Angel Dicosola, she became a full time potter. Dedicating most of her time to making pots, it was suggested she apply to grad school. She applied to several grad schools and was accepted into Alfred, graduating with an MFA in 2006.

Nena still lives in Oakland Park, Florida with her husband. She works occasionally as an adjunct professor, and is a part-time studio technician at FAU. She has a working studio in her home.