Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Viewpoints: All Sewn Up

"Mud Cookies"
I first discovered the work of Patricia Anderson Turner at an exhibit at the Visual Arts Center.  Turner is a fiber artist who finds herself increasingly incorporating social commentary into her work.  I was immediately drawn to her "Mud Cookies."  It's a beautiful quilted work featuring the "cookies" that Haitian women make out of mud, clay, salt and shortening.  When food sources are short, you make do with what's available.  The work was powerful, and it stayed with me long after I left the show.  And so I was intrigued when I heard that an exhibit of Turner's social commentary pieces would be on display at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Port Charlotte.  It's a thought-provoking show.

"Dripping Down the Drain"
Each of the mixed media works in the show highlights a social ill, ranging from the torture perpetrated by the United States at Abu Ghraib to the effects of climate change to the circumstances giving rise to the Syrian Uprising. The wall card for each work includes a brief explanation of the issue that Turner is addressing.

Turner uses her "Dripping Down the Drain" to bring focus to what is becoming a global water crisis.  People living in the United States use an average of 176 gallons of water each day.  In Africa, people use a mere five gallons. According to a report by the United Nations, by the year 2025, two-thirds of the global population will face water shortages.  Ironically, I received an email today with a flyer highlighting April as Water Conservation Month.  If I hadn't just seen Turner's show, the likelihood is that I would have deleted the email without even looking at it.  Instead, I took a look at the "water challenge" that students are being asked to participate in.  Click here to find out easy ways that you can conserve water in your daily life.    

"DARkly FURgotten"  
Turner's "DARkly FURgotten" highlights the treatment of women in Darfur.  Again, the wall card filled us in on the scene pictured here.  A doctor treated the woman depicted in the work for wounds to her wrists.  She had been raped, tortured and hung from a tree for three days. The sea of trees represents the other victims who remain nameless and faceless. (Note:  Both "DARkly FURgotten" and "Mud Cookies" were recently purchased by the Museum of Michigan State University, a Smithsonian affiliate, for its permanent collection.) 

"High Frequency Trading"
My personal favorite work in the show is Turner's piece lamenting high frequency trading.  I learned about the phenomenon of HFT only recently when I saw an interview with Michael Lewis on the Daily Show.  (Lewis was promoting "Flash Boys," his new book on the subject.) Apparently the issue has been on Turner's radar screen for a while.  I love the crazy colors in this piece that reflect the freneticism of the trading.  And Turner's insertion of couple from Grant Woods' "American Gothic" is a bit of comic relief in an exhibit that otherwise doesn't give you much to smile about.

"Viewpoints:  All Sewn Up" will be on display at the UUF through the end of the month.  I urge you to stop by to see the show if you get the chance.

To learn more about the art of Patricia Anderson Turner, you can go to her website by clicking here.  

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