Two alumni from the Masters of Fine Arts program came back to speak Friday about their artwork and careers since graduating from ISU in the late 1980s.
Teresa Parker and Phillip Turner were honored on Friday during Homecoming week for their contributions to the art department and achievements as artists. They did a print signing and spoke about the meaning behind some of their projects.
“I want to create a more global representation and put [my projects] out there,” Parker said.
Parker talked about a few of her projects focusing on women including “Domestic Bliss” and “The All-Stars.” She is currently working on a movement to spread the word about domestic violence and its prominence around the world.
“My goal is to create a dialogue and spread a message saying this is not okay,” Parker said. “The role of an artist is to say what’s on your mind.”
The “Domestic Bliss” series features photos of women who were physically abused with some alterations. The photos are grainy and ghost-like to represent the abuse, but a gold halo is added to increase self-esteem.
Parker explained how it can be really difficult to look at the photos and not be disturbed, especially since there are so many. However, the series received positive feedback and increased awareness among women.
Turner does more abstract projects that focus on form and texture. Projects like “Angelic,” “Balance” and “Invisible Man” feature a photo of him altered in various ways to create a theme. He was inspired to use himself as a figure in the projects after learning that female figures are often exploited.
“My images are restructured,” Turner said. “When you are in a bad situation you have to find a way to regroup and pull yourself back together.”
Turner, like Parker, wants his artwork to leave a message and inspire those around him. His work focuses on psychological and mental capabilities of those in dangerous situations as well as the struggles he faces being an African American male.
Parker and Turner together started a print project with the art department. They will be donating prints to sell and raise money for scholarships within the department. These sales will benefit the printmaking program at ISU and hopefully inspire students that are pursuing art.
“Try to find a way to make your work matter,” Parker said. “It’s all about being flexible about your work environment, being patient and you have to be stubborn.”
Both alumni advise current MFA majors and art majors in general to utilize what they learn at ISU and take it to the next level. They are encouraged to be challenged by their assignments but also stay true to themselves.
“The program gives you a lot of technical information,” Turner added. “Learn how to take that information and explore it.”