Artist Spotlight: Vadis Turner

EuropeNow Can you tell us a little about yourself and about the kind of art you create?

Vadis Turner I synthesize the practice of painting with feminist materials. Hand-dyed and up-cycled layers of domestic textiles are translated into brushstrokes. Marks are hand sewn onto woven foundations, canvas or fixed in resin. The compositions merge female characters with storied landscapes and contrasting elements, revealing the underbelly of the female archetype.

EuropeNow What about your primary medium do you like best?

Vadis Turner I am interested in exploring the transformative possibilities of domestic textiles and how they can be perceived differently from their original function.

EuropeNow Can you tell us about your creative process?

Vadis Turner The more I work, the more ideas I have. Each body of work evolves from the one that preceeds it. I keep paper nearby when I am working so I can write/sketch out ideas. Then I look to see which themes/relationships interest me most, and I give myself permission to make lots of bad drawings to work them out. I make little “haystacks” of collected ribbon, textiles, and other elements to develop a palette. The palette merges with the drawings as I create larger paintings or collages. I “paint” with many layers of materials then sew or fix them into place.

EuropeNow When you were starting out, would you have been surprised at your art today?

Vadis Turner Yes and no. I studied painting in school and was forever brainwashed to see everything as a painting. I took a break from the medium after graduation to experiment with mixed media. I gravitated towards materials that were representative of women’s work (wax paper, hosiery, cotton balls), and eventually developed a feminist palette for sculptures and installations. I still perceived everything as a painting and decided that the greatest challenge of my practice would be to have these materials engage with the wall and become paintings. So it has come full circle in the end. I make abstract paintings with gender-based materials.

EuropeNow What is your favorite aspect of your art?

Vadis Turner That it connects me with the wisdoms, rites of passage, and handiwork of other generations of women.

EuropeNow Can you tell us a little about the piece you donated for this auction?

Vadis Turner This is a time of day study about New York City at 11am created with scraps of dyed and bleached textiles.


Vadis Turner has synthesized the practice of painting with repurposed textiles. Her unconventional paintings engage gender roles and handicrafts in a contemporary context. Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Turner received a BFA and MFA from Boston University and has exhibited her work internationally. Selected exhibitions include the Brooklyn Museum, New York; National Gallery, Prague; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA and Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, 21C Museum, Tennessee State Museum, Kentucky Arts and Crafts Museum, and the Egon Schiele Art Centrum. In 2016, Turner was awarded the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant. She is currently preparing for a solo exhibition at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in 2017.

Lillian Klein is the programs coordinator at the Council for European Studies. She holds a B.A. in literature with a minor in religious studies from Barnard College, as well as an M.F.A. in fiction from Columbia University. Previously, Lillian assisted in the Memberships, Programs, and Awards Department at PEN America Center. She also served as a teaching fellow at Paris American Academy’s writing program for two consecutive summers.

Christie’s Education (CE) New York has entered into a collaborative partnership with the Council for European Studies at Columbia University (CES). A first joint project is a forthcoming online auction, the proceeds of which will be used to create a new scholarship to be awarded to a CES-CE applicant. The featured work in this article has been donated to the online auction, which will take place in December 2017.


Published on August 10, 2017.


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