Britni Mara is a native Chicagoan who works mostly with paint. She also founded The Hallway Gallery, a pop-up initiative that transforms occupied office spaces, vacant shops, and vacant walls in residential buildings into galleries for female and nonbinary artists.

With approximately 55,000 followers, she also manages one of Instagram’s most beautiful art accounts.

The most recent: Mara is organizing the next The Hallway Gallery at The Forge, a female-run training ground for performers and filmmakers, for this spring or early summer.

What’s happening: Mara discussed her career and goals with Maxwell Millington of Axios. For clarity, the interview has been modified.

What do you mean by art?

Anything that evokes a strong emotion might be considered artWhat local artists do you really admire?

One of my favorite artists and humans is David Ellis, who goes by “Ewrks.” He works in Rogers Park, and he makes music as well. His art is really provocative and interesting.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

For me, it comes from lived experiences. I catalog those experiences, and it comes through in my artwork. I also love to travel, and lately I’ve created series that focus on escapism from the cold, gray weather in Chicago.

How does living in Chicago impact your work?

There’s so much vibrant culture in (Chicago) between art, food and music. I think the Midwestern charm makes the city less intimidating than New York and LA, and every artist I’ve met has been willing to cultivate a community and network and help each other.