With selected pieces curated for the opening of the New York Academy Summer Residency Program on June 30 2016, all artists were represented, and the artists were most definitely present during the event. Standing among their peers conversing with one other, as well as with guests during their show, I was able to pull one of the talented artists, Julianna Wells, aside from the excitement, and buzz of the occasion, to view her studio space and ask her to reflect on her month long residency. The following dialogue is the conversation that ensued:

Christofer Gass: How do you feel your work has progressed during your summer residency at New York Academy?

Julianna Wells: Being in an environment where everyone is working towards the same goal, which is figurative and representative painting, has kind of put me in a place where I can pursue my own goals. I have this group of people around me that are so talented, so hardworking, and that pushes me to be the best of what I can be. You have to play with people who are better than you to bring yourself up to the next level. So, they have taken us to all these studios like Steven Assael, Alyssa Monks, we heard a talk by Eric Fischl, and a lot of them talk about what figurative painting can be, where you can take it, but I think the most important thing is the Academy isn’t a place where everyone makes the same thing. All of the students receive intensive technical training, but it is up to them to decide what to do with it. Everyone learns to find their own voice, what’s important to them, and the tools they need to express that. So, it has been a very nurturing place that’s also pushed me very far to pursue my own goals.

CG: What is an important lesson you have learned while studying here this summer?

JW: There was something that my drawing teacher, Elliot Purse, first said when we worked on the figure, that it doesn’t have to be what’s in front of you. If you have this thought, or this idea, like “what if the light hit it like this” and that would make it better - then why not make it that and why not push it to be the best that you think it can be. I think that impacted the way in which I think about my own paintings and the way in which I look at things around me. I can create a work of art, not just a replicate.

CG: What aspects of New York City have you enjoyed and what was your favorite part about studying here?

JW: I love the fact that you can go to a free day at MoMA, and the whole museum is just packed with people seeing art. I love the fact that you can go to galleries every Thursday and Friday night and there is hundreds of people looking at art. There are so many people here that appreciate the art world and it just makes me happy to be an artist.

CG: What’s in store for the future? What’s next?

JW: I hope to pursue a MFA here at the New York Academy of Art. The school offers the tools and information with which students painting representation ally need to communicate, as well as pushing their students conceptually. One day, I would like to be a part of the community that walks these halls. For now, I am going to come back home to Columbus and put into practice the information I learned this summer.

(End of dialogue)

Julianna Wells is a current junior at Columbus State University, and a major in studio art with a focus on the medium of oil paint. Since beginning classes at CSU, Julianna has not only befriended, and gained the respect of her peers, but has earned the notoriety of being a dedicated, strong willed, and exceptionally talented student under the tutelage of not only the facility at the university, but among acclaimed artists working and teaching in Columbus, as well as abroad.

Although nearly a thousand miles away from home, and her place of traditional study in Columbus, Georgia, Julianna Wells had close friends, and professors from Columbus State University, arrive to her opening to admire her work that was created during her residency at New York Academy.

With the amount of dedication the artist puts towards her work and the eye of precision she persists consistently, there is only one direction for this young aspiring artist – up! Continue to keep your eyes and ears open for this artist, Julianna Wells is destined for greatness.