Multi-disciplinary artist Julia Whitney Barnes creates site-specific installations inspired by richly patterned architectural elements of buildings observed firsthand, as well as through collected images and videos. The inspiration for Illumination sparked from experiencing the exquisite stained-glass windows by artist Charles Booth located at the Brooklyn Historical Society, just down the street from One Pierrepont Plaza. Booth was a largely unknown stained-glass artist of the Victorian era, and Whitney Barnes also studied his work at The Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library in Lower Manhattan; as well as at Grace Church, Calvary Church, and Trinity Church, all in Manhattan. Whitney Barnes’ deep interest in history brings attention to Booth’s surviving works, while also imagining what some of his now lost windows may have once looked like. For Illumination, she took hundreds of photographs of Booth’s windows from multiple angles and used them as a point of departure for creating her own digital versions, using Booth’s varied themes in new and different ways and adjusting his traditional palette. These new adapted interpretations, have been printed on vinyl and adhered to the marble lobby walls of One Pierrepont Plaza, creating an illusion of illuminated stained-glass windows, and providing a unique opportunity for viewers to see this kind of artwork at eye level.
The artist encourages viewers to visit the Brooklyn Historical Society and Jefferson Market New York Public Library to see the original Booth windows and experience these unique historic buildings. The Brooklyn Historical Society building, designed by George Post in 1878-80, was originally called the Long Island Historical Society. It was one of the earliest buildings in the area to use terra cotta trim. About 90% of George Post’s impressive structures around New York City were demolished to make way for modern skyscrapers. The New York Stock Exchange is one of Post’s most famous structures left intact. A plaque on the exterior of the Jefferson Mark New York Public Library, originally the Jefferson Courthouse building, states “This building, designed along Victorian Gothic Lines by Vaux & Withers, was constructed in 1876 and served as a women’s court until 1932. Of particular interest are its turrets, traceried windows, ironwork and sculpture.” Booth’s windows for the Jefferson Courthouse appear to incorporate imagery that resembles female anatomy, which is fitting.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Born in Newbury, VT, Julia Whitney Barnes spent two decades in Brooklyn, before moving to the Hudson Valley, where she now lives with her photographer husband and two children. Whitney Barnes received her BFA from Parsons School of Design and her MFA from Hunter College, both in New York, NY. Her work is executed in a variety of media, from oil paintings, ceramic sculptures, murals, drawings, etchings, and site-specific installations. Whitney Barnes has exhibited in the United States and internationally, including at Front Room Gallery, New York, NY; Brooklyn Historical Society, The Old Stone House, and Trestle Gallery, all Brooklyn, NY; Mattaewan Gallery, Beacon, NY; Cunneen Hackett Arts Center, and WomensWork Gallery, both Poughkeepsie, NY; ArtsWestchester, White Plains, NY Institute of Contemporary Art and International Crytopzoology Museum, both Portland, ME; and Siena Art Institute, Italy, among many others. Whitney Barnes has created site-specific installations at the Wilderstein Sculpture Biennial, Rhinebeck, NY; The Trolley Barn/Fall Kill Creative Works, Poughkeepsie, NY; GlenLily Grounds, Newburgh, NY; ArtsWestchester, White Plains, NY; Gowanus Public Arts Initiative, Brooklyn, NY; Space All Over/Fjellerup Bund i Bund & Grund, Fjellerup, Denmark; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council/Sirovitch Senior Center, and the New York City Department of Transportation, both New York, NY; and Figment Sculpture Garden, Governors Island, NY, among other locations. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Village Voice, Brooklyn Magazine, HuffPost, and Hyperallergic, among other publications. She was awarded fellowships from New York State Council on the Arts administered through Arts Mid-Hudson, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Gowanus Public Art Initiative. She is on faculty at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Learn more at juliawhitneybarnes.com and follow the artist on Instagram at @juliawhitneybarnes.
ABOUT CHARLES BOOTH (1844-1893)
Born in Liverpool, England, he was first listed in the NYC directories as “stainer” (stained-glass artist) in the 1875-76 publication. He lived in Orange, NJ and had workshops at 166 Fifth Avenue and then 47 Lafayette Place in Manhattan. Booth’s time in NYC was quite brief as he returned to London, England in 1880 to take over George Edward Cook’s studio while still maintaining a NYC branch of his operations. Cook was best known as a painter, primarily working in stained glass during the 1870s with an emphasis of elements in a Japanese style. Booth was part of the Aesthetic Movement and considered himself to be an ornamentalist working in an Anglo-Japanese style that was popularized in the 1870s by Charles Dresser. His style incorporated some recognizable Modern Gothic motifs and geometricized plant forms. Although Booth died in 1893, the last listing for his studio in NYC was 1905/06. According to his will, made in 1884, Booth desired “that his business be carried on in England and America,” and thus the workshop continued to operate under his name even after his death. How fitting that over 125 years after his passing, his legacy will be reinvigorated with a new creation in his honor.