It was an absolute inspiration to talk with Nashville-based artist Vadis Turner in this episode as we discuss beauty in the messes, joy found in personal materials, and the continuous power of a transformative journey. Vadis Turner received a BFA and MFA from Boston University. She was awarded the Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2016. Her first solo museum exhibition, Tempest, was at the Frist Art Museum in 2017. Turner’s work is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, 21C Hotel & Museum, Hunter Museum of American Art, Tennessee State Museum, Kentucky Arts and Crafts Museum and the Egon Schiele Art Centrum. Selected group exhibitions include the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, ME; Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; Islip Art Museum, Islip, NY; Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN and Cheekwood Museum, Nashville, TN. She has been an artist in residence at the Museum of Arts & Design, NYC, Corporation of Yaddo, Saratoga Springs, NY and Hambidge Center, GA. Selected press features include Artforum, The New York Times, Wallpaper Magazine, Elle Magazine, Vanityfair.com, Observer, Artnet.com and White Hot Magazine.
In the beginning of the interview, we discuss the profound power of transformation. A majority of Vadis’s work involves selecting mundane domestic items and manipulating them in a way that allows them to transcend their original purpose – like frilly tween curtains that morph into sinister hissing portals, for example. She admits that her studio space is messy, but that the mess is actually where she is the most comfortable – a constantly spinning nucleus that continually gives and inspires. We talk about the power of simplifying and editing – not only in art-making, but also in parenting and life-living.
As we talk more about her process and her art journey, Vadis recalls the importance of her studio space at her Grandparents’ house, and how this place influences her work. She lives in downtown Nashville with her two sons and partner, but creates work in this sacred family homestead just north of Nashville in Gallatin, TN. Burnpiles, old family textiles, and watching storms roll through the landscape are all points of inspiration, as she wills the materials to “misbehave”.
Vadis finds great excitement and inspiration in defying and transcending expectations whether it be abstract or concrete… What are the expectations of this old piece of wood or cement, and what could it turn into? What are the societal expectations of a middle-aged woman, and what will flip the script? In this nuanced in-between, in this transcendence, is where her work powers through and rises up to something greater than herself – an undefinable light in the chaos, “gloriously flawed”.
Biggest art crush: Rashid Johnson and Harmony Hammond
Dream trip: Vietnam
Film or book: Consolations by David White and “A Promising Young Woman” film
Favorite meal: Oysters and french fries and a few negronis
Shout-out: Poppy and Dolly from Geary Gallery in New York
To see more of Vadis’s work please visit her website and follow her on IG @vadisturner
The Artist/Mother podcast is created and hosted by Kaylan Buteyn. You can see more of Kaylan’s work on her website or connect with her on Instagram @kaylanbuteyn