Some painters sole purpose is place—take the Hudson River School artists—while others use their art to dream up entirely new realities. Julia Whitney Barnes falls squarely in the second category. "There are several places and several experiences in each painting," Whitney Barnes says of her work.

 

When she was in her early 30s, she was a "travel buddy" to an airline-employed friend. "For two years, at any point, I could just hop on a flight and go anywhere that airline flew. I would be sitting in my studio and think, 'I could be in Barcelona!' and just go."

 

Travel has always inspired her art, and on these impulse voyages, Whitney Barnes snapped thousands of photographs and made hundreds of sketches. This intense bout of traveling left her with a stockpile of raw material. "Now that I have a little bit of distance, it's like I am reliving the experiences, but by creating something that never existed."

 

After receiving her MFA from Hunter College in 2006, Whitney Barnes rented studio space in an industrial building in Gowanus. "There were always lots of other people around. I really loved all that camaraderie. It was really easy to get people in and out and see each other's art."

 

Read the full article online in Chronogram.

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