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Arts and Performance

‘Aaron Turner: Black Alchemy, Backwards/Forwards’ Exhibition

January 25, 2021March 4, 2021 EST

Light Work

Light Work’s galleries are currently closed to the general public as part of our ongoing effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. We encourage patrons to visit our exhibitions and events online and to check out our catalog of artist videos.

Light Work will exhibit more than 20 works by Arkansas–based photographer Aaron Turner in its first main gallery show of 2021. Aaron Turner: Black Alchemy, Backwards/Forwards will be on view in the Kathleen O. Ellis Gallery from January 25 through March 4, 2021. Mary Lee Hodgens, associate director of Light Work, will moderate a virtual conversation and Q&A with Turner on Thursday, February 18 at 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. EST. 

In the solitude of the studio, the artist is never alone. Quite the contrary for Aaron Turner. Sidney Poitier, Martin Luther King, Marvin Gay, Frederick Douglas and others all move up and through the layers of cut paper and projections. The artist handles, arranges, touches both objects and beloved figures, seeking, listening, directing, and responding. Some of these juxtapositions seem random, fluid, almost falling through space, but this is precisely the process Turner invites us to witness.

Aaron Turner’s Arkansas delta community and family taught him to know and understand African American history, honor its heroes, and respect his elders. The simple and profound gift of this upbringing has allowed him to pursue the role of Black artist and activist in our culture with unapologetic, single-minded intensity. Turner is in many ways acknowledging, standing on, and building from this foundation in his work. With deep affinity for the formal qualities of black-and-white photography, Aaron Turner uses his large format camera and the alchemical darkroom process to move back and forth between abstraction, still life, collage, and appropriated archival images to literally take apart and then reconstruct his photographic images. The color black itself has a presence in this work—infinite, elegant, unknowable. Turner is also a painter; his use of large swaths of black is both a metaphor for race and related to abstraction and its emphasis on process, materials, and color itself as subject.

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This event was published on January 25, 2021.


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