Copper Planted Seeds
Exhibit Dates: July 28 – October 5, 2021
Closing reception with the artists: Thursday, September 30th at 7 – 8:30 pm
Artist talk beginning at 7:20 pm
HANCOCK, MI – Finlandia University Gallery will present a two-person exhibit titled Copper Planted Seeds at the Finlandia University Gallery, located in the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), Hancock from July 28 to October 5, 2021. Copper Planted Seeds is an exhibit featuring the work of Ashanté Kindle and Khari Turner, two emerging artists who create at the border of abstraction and realism. Kindle and Turner are storytellers and seekers, exploring their identity as Black Americans and creating work that is revelatory, celebratory, thoughtful and poetic.
A closing reception for the artists will be held in the gallery on Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 7pm, with an artist talk beginning at 7:20pm.
Ashanté Kindle and Khari Turner both created new work for the Finlandia University exhibit Copper Planed Seeds. After learning about the mining history of the Copper Country and the concept of sisu, the artists developed work that sought common ground with our local history and connected with their life experiences.
“Initially when thinking about making work for Copper Planted Seeds, I thought a lot about the history of the area and the role Black people played in that history,” explained Kindle. “I often find myself thinking about the ways our bodies have shaped the land of this country both physically and metaphorically. Those histories are often not recorded but what if we were able to call upon the land to be the true storytellers. What would it reveal?”
“My main thought process for Copper Planted Seeds was in relation to the word sisu and history,” notes Turner. “I was thinking a lot about determination, regardless of the problems that people faced, and how through every obstacle there was always a way to fight and persevere. In creating the work, I thought about the ideas of darkness, shadow, light and stillness. I was thinking of these as a way to discuss, prepare, and escape hardship to create freedom.”
Kindle, a multi-disciplinary artist, creates abstracted wave forms inspired by the textures that occur in Black hair naturally and through a range of styling techniques. “Hair is always the start for my work but then I begin to think about everything Black hair holds,” notes Kindle, “…form, culture, history, DNA, pride and so many other things. I think about Blackness as an accumulation of all things, lacking nothing. There are so many ways to exist in Blackness and my work is my way of visually communicating my own existence and what I find beautiful about my identity.”
Kindle’s practice is driven by the recall of memories and a desire to celebrate the history and beauty of Blackness. “With a focus on process and mark making, working in abstraction provides a space of freedom to recreate without boundaries,” notes Kindle. “The repetition of marks over time becomes a form of labor in relation to my practice, the body, emotions, occupying spaces, and many other things.”
Abstracting the S-curl waves that form in Black hair has become a visual language for Kindle, creating the iconic waveforms that move through her paintings. “The process of creating has become as important as the final piece as transformation begins to occur and each repeated mark begins to represent the echo of a soft whisper or a frenzied scream of emotion,” says Kindle.
Khari Turner focuses on Black history, using imagery to express the relationship between his emotions and understanding his past, a journey of spiritual connection for him that acknowledges both the elegance and chaotic nature of existence.
“I paint to create a deeper connection to my identity and history as a Black American. Metaphorically, I see Black people as personifications of the magic that is the ocean,” says Turner. “My paintings and drawings combine abstraction with realistic renderings of Black noses and lips to rejuvenate the relationship of my history to my ancestor’s history with water. Lately my work has evolved and involves the material as abstractions. Seeing the abstract paintings as a passage into the figure but also into ideas and feelings the figure can’t always demonstrate.”
Turner’s childhood in Milwaukee, a city well known for its continued segregation, deeply influenced his work. Growing up in Milwaukee’s unique combination of vast natural landscapes and dense urban cityscapes created a relationship to Black people, water, and his environment that plays a major role in his work now. Turner currently collects water directly from places that have either a historical or personal connection to black history, including the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, his hometown’s Lake Michigan and Milwaukee River water. He incorporates this water into his work by either mixing the water with paint or pouring it directly onto the surface of the painting. He hopes to eventually incorporate the themes of water health and environmental conservation into his work, with an ultimate goal of bringing art to low-income neighborhoods.
Kindle is a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) candidate at The University of Connecticut and Turner is a current MFA graduate student at Columbia University. Both artists received their Bachelor of Fine Arts from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Kindle has been in numerous group exhibits throughout the United States including New York, Tennessee, Washington, and Florida. She is in multiple collections including her alma mater Austin Peay State University. Her work has been featured in Hyperallergic and the Brooklyn Rail.
Turner has recently been featured in solo shows in California and was featured in Christie’s “Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)” exhibition. He is in multiple collections including his alma mater Austin Peay State University. His work has been featured in Artnews, Whitehot magazine, Hyperallergic, and Juxtapoz Radio.
Copper Planted Seeds will be on display at the Finlandia University Gallery through October 5, 2021.
The Finlandia University Gallery is located in the Finnish American Heritage Center, 435 Quincy Street, Hancock. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or by appointment. Please call 906-487-7500 for more information.
Learn more about this exhibit, other exhibits and the Finlandia University Gallery in general by visiting finlandia.edu/universitygallery.