Roswell-based artist Kate Turner makes art that reflects her unique history and experience and examines contemporary issues of race, gender, and identity.
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There’s something expansive and forward-looking in Kate Turner’s work, despite how reflective it is. There’s cyberpunk gear that leaves nothing exposed except eyes and hands. High-visibility costumery that both attracts attention and diverts it. Soft fabric cornstalks hung from the ceiling, whispering secrets.
Working in installation, sculpture, fashion, video, and performance, Turner’s work is genre-bending: a hodgepodge of old-as-time Midwestern tropes and futuristic nods to where we’re headed as a society.
Hailing from suburban Ohio, a transracial adoptee in a predominantly white community cloistered by cornfields, Turner learned from a young age how to inhabit different identities, putting on “masks,” as she describes it, to survive the loneliness.
Motherhood was the catalyst that made Turner into an artist. Never wanting her own children to experience the fissure she did, she began to make “armor” against a system designed to silence Black voices. She continued to hone her artistic voice through the MFA program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she earned a degree in sculpture and extended media.
Now living in Roswell, New Mexico, where she was a 2021-22 artist in residence, Turner makes art that reflects her unique history and experience and examines contemporary issues of race, gender, and identity. Circumscribed yet vast, beholden to chronology without being constrained by it, she walks in and out of invented worlds, opening up dialogues about reality, and materializing a radical vision of the future.
In works like the installation Somewhere That’s Green (2022) there’s duality: an unsettled cast of color and an eerie scarecrow both surveilling and protecting the space. It’s Turner’s hometown “turned upside down” as she puts it, but it also puts a stake in the ground. It’s space claimed as her own, shared with everyone who has found themselves standing left of center.