The Artistic Life: Vadis Turner

  Vadis Turner  is on the move. Currently featuring two separate solo exhibitions in two different New York galleries, preparing for an upcoming feature in November and chasing around her adorable 13-month old little boy all at the same time...she is one busy lady!  As a true artist in every sense of the word, Vadis has never held herself to the parameters of art that have already been established. She is constantly pushing her own boundaries and eagerly moving into unchartered territories, always seeking new and different ways to express her creative spirit.  Known to us Nashvillians as "Vadie," Vadis' creativity was always presenting itself when we were growing up (designing and sewing her own prom dress in high school is only one of many examples that come to mind). So it comes as no surprise now that Vadis' talent is being nationally recognized--we could have called that one a long time ago!  We're delighted to have Vadis here with us today, so that you can have a glimpse into her talented, artistic life. Enjoy!


Tell us a bit about your background and how you evolved to being a true artist by trade. Was there a defining moment you knew this was what you wanted to do for the rest of your life, or has it always been a part of who you are? I was born in Nashville, TN and I now live in Brooklyn, NY. I have always loved to create things, but I am not sure that it distinguished me from other kids. It’s sad that most people stop making things with their hands somewhere in the process of growing up. I just kept making a mess from whatever was around. I had an empowering art teacher in high school who has forever inspired my creative practice. Ms. Paschall helped me to make connections between art and life. Eventually the art studio became the lens through which I observed the world. Visual languages and systems started making more sense to me than other ways of thinking. Committing to my art wasn’t a choice so much – more like my only option - as I never wanted to stop developing it. Even though you are now a full-time New Yorker, your family roots are very Southern. How has your Southern heritage affected your artistic style, and in your opinion, does it thread itself throughout your various projects? Growing up in Nashville exposed me to the dimensional roles of women and rites of passage that are specific to southern culture. That subject matter informed my work for many years. Traditional and contemporary forms of women's work still inspires my investigations in mixed media.

 Water Sample (particle) (20x20x4in, fabric, ribbon, mixed media, 2013)

Tell us about the various ways in which you showcase your artistic talent (i.e., what mediums you use). What let you to make the transition from paint on canvas to a more mixed media style that you showcase today? My current works transform textiles, mostly clothing and ribbon, into abstract paintings. I have synthesized my mixed media palette with the process of painting. I use ribbon-like streaks of paint and fabric as textured color fields. When I work, it is just like painting. The major difference is that instead of waiting for paint to dry, I am carefully sewing my "brush marks" in place by hand before adding more (and more) layers. Thanks to my residency at Materials for the Arts, all of my new work is made from 100% recycled textiles.

 Daybreak (7x6x.5ft, fabric, ribbon, mixed media, 2013)

 Air Sample (Blue) (20x24x4in, fabric, ribbon, mixed media, 2013)

How does your style and aesthetic as an artist transition into your interior design style at home? Let's just say that I have a unique perception of what "goes" together. I want my home to have energy, stories and surprising juxtapositions. I think that handmade objects from India, Mexico, and Japan should be side by side along with my son's toys and vintage a 3D crazy quilt. Similar to my artwork, I like switching up the function of things. I have use an African board game as a jewelry organizer and cigar boxes to organize my makeup. I drink wine out of jam jars and organize our remote controls in a pyrex measuring cup. Instead of balance and consistency, I prefer areas that are fabulously clustered/active next to quiet expanses of space. I love blowing out color on big walls and clashing textile patterns together. I just thinks it makes sense and looks fun. I don't care if it's kind of wild-looking. The more I think about it, the more it looks like a college dorm room meets a Brooklyn loft.....dorm room chic! What was the driving inspiration for your latest collection? I have been visualizing what happens when an ideal environment starts to decline and/or transform into something else. I study specific types of light and imagine how elements of the earth could be stirred or influenced by an agent of change. I think there is beauty in the brief state of “between" and I want to capture moments of transition.

Storm (7x7x.5ft, fabric, ribbon, mixed media, 2013)

Where can we see your work? I have two solo exhibitions on view now in New York. One is at Jack Geary Contemporary and the other is at Materials for the Arts. In November, I will have a piece in the Repetition & Ritual show at The Minnesota Museum of American Art.

Swamp Soil Sample (29x23x3in, fabric, ribbon, mixed media, 2013)


Thank you Vadie! We love your energy and are in awe of your amazing talent. We are truly inspired and can't wait to see what you do next!



(Vadis and son, Gray)




For more information about Vadis' work, read this review on her most recent collection: 


(Images: 1,3,4,5,9,10-photgraphed by Emily Andrews; 2,11-photographed by Madison Harding; All others photographed by Vadis Turner)


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