Tuesday, July 21, 2009






Art & Labor & The Labor of Art Show:
How what we do, influences our art.


I entered one of my sculptural boxes, “Zara, a woman from Niger” in a local show called, ‘Art & Labor and The Labor of Art’. This piece, one of a series of three, started with the face of a Nigerian woman. As I worked on her face in clay, I started wonder: what is her life like? What does she do to sustain herself and her family? How does she dress? Who shares her life?
This piece became a series of three, depicting the faces, textiles, landscapes and lives of women from Niger, India and Japan. I researched their countries, lifestyles, work and history. I read books about their countries, searched National Geographic articles and found travel books for photos of the country’s landscapes.

With this information, their stories emerged.

‘Zara, a woman from Niger’ begins her day by the fire warming herself in the cold desert morning. Her husband is away on a caravan in search of salt, a prized commodity in this desert country. ‘Sartha, a woman from India’ wakes at dawn to go out into the crocus fields to carefully pick the stamens which become the highly prized spice, saffron. ‘Meiko, a woman from Japan’ farms her small plot on the island of Hokkaido. She is an Annui, the indigenous people of Japan once exiled on the island by the Japanese government.

On the outside of each box is a copper repousse’ illustrating some aspect of their daily life. Inside the door is a short written piece about their daily life. Mounted inside the box, the clay faces are adorned with ethnic jewelry, textiles and tattoos. The background behind the faces depicts their native landscapes.

I’m thrilled that all three ‘Ethnic Portrait’ series boxes were accepted into the show. Art & Labor, the Labor of Art exhibit focuses on the issues of labor, making ends meet and the effects of economy on family and society. As well as the relationship between the arts and labor movements and the reality that human toil is the foundation of creativity.

I’m honored to be one of many wonderful national, regional and local artists in this show curated by Lora R. Fisher, such as Gwenn Seemel, Mitch Baird, Christopher B. Mooney, Celeste Bergin, Allen Schmertzler, Patricia Gifford, Susan B. Schenk, Anthony Lazorko, Jr. and Sarah Hauser. If you’re in Portland, Oregon, you can see the show at the Olympic Mills Gallery, 107 S.E. Washington Street, through August 30, 2009.

To see all three ‘Ethnic Portrait’ sculptural boxes, visit my website, Susan Gallacher-Turner Sculpture

2 comments:

susanjtweit said...

What a beautiful idea, Susan, and beautifully done. Your ability to integrate story in words and story in image always amazes and inspires me.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

Thank you, Susan. I loved doing this series.

Susan GT