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Shaker-inspired art on display at Albany International Airport and historic site nearby

July 17, 2022
3 min read
Art by Julia Whitney
Shaker-inspired art on display at Albany International Airport and historic site nearby
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In a creative and community-oriented move, New York’s Albany International Airport (ALB) is hosting a long-term art installation that extends from the airport terminal to the grounds of a historic site nearby.

Julia Whitney Barnes, a Poughkeepsie, New York-based artist, spent a year photographing and collecting specimens of more than 150 of the plants growing in the herb garden on the grounds of the Shaker Heritage Society in Albany.

The Shaker Heritage Society is on the site of the first Shake­r settlement in the U.S. and is less than a mile from the airport.

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(Image courtesy of Albany International Airport)

The Shakers, a sect of Christian pacifists who lived simply and communally in colonies in the Northeast and Midwest, are best known today for their furniture, architecture and music. You may even know the two-verse “Simple Gifts” Shaker song.

However, the Shakers also had a successful business growing, drying, pressing and selling culinary herbs and herbal medications.

For her installation, titled “Planting Utopia,” displayed at both Albany International Airport and the nearby Shaker settlement site, Whitney Barnes takes inspiration from the Shaker herb garden and historic Shaker "gift" or "spirit" drawings.

(Image courtesy of Albany International Airport)

At the Shaker Heritage Society’s 1856 Drying House, a three-minute drive or 10-minute walk from the airport, Whitney Barnes’ installation includes temporary murals on the exterior of the historic brick building.

The images are stark blue and white silhouettes of herbs in bloom climbing the outside of the red brick walls.

(Photo courtesy of Albany International Airport)

Inside the Drying House, Whitney Barnes placed hanging bunches of herbs from the garden and prints on fabric made using the cyanotype process — a camera-free photographic process invented in 1842.

(Photo courtesy of Albany International Airport)

To make images with this process, objects are put on paper or fabric that is coated with cyanotype chemistry and then exposed to light. This creates silhouettes in various hues of white to light blue on dark blue backgrounds.

For her works on paper, Whitney Barnes adds many layers of paint to the blue and white prints she has made with intricately cut photographic negative and pressed and dried plants from the herb garden.

The murals on the outside of the Drying House and the installation inside will remain on view through summer 2023.

(Photo courtesy of Albany International Airport)

For the companion installation inside Albany International Airport, Whitney Barnes made eight cyanotype paintings on paper with plants collected from the Shaker herb garden.

The paintings are in the style of symmetrical 19th-century Shaker "gift" or "spirit" drawings that were said to be inspired by spiritual visions and often included botanical elements. These eight new original paintings are reproduced on aluminum panels and will be displayed in the light-filled pre-security first-floor pedestrian corridor for the next three to five years.

A bonus exhibition, also called "Planting Utopia," featuring artwork, preparatory sketches and a documentary about the collaboration, is on view through mid-January 2023 in the post-security Concourse A Gallery at Albany International Airport.

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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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