“Vadis Turner: Tempest” — May 26–September 10, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 5, 2017)—The Frist Art Museum is proud to present Nashville-born artist Vadis Turner’s first monographic museum exhibition, Vadis Turner: Tempest, on view in the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery from May 26 through September 10, 2017. Turner’s practice revolves around transforming everyday materials—typically those associated with women and their work, such as ribbons and bedding—into bold, textured assemblages that assert value on female experiences, especially rites of passage, and question traditional gender roles. Tempest will be presented alongside State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now, a large survey of contemporary art on view in the Ingram Gallery.

Turner returned to the Nashville area in 2014 after living in Boston and New York for many years. Although trained as a painter, shortly after graduate school she began to create mixed-media sculptures from objects related to femaleness, such as lingerie made of wax paper and a wedding cake made of tampons, in a vein similar to that of the first feminist artists in the 1960s. She shifted to using discarded textiles for wall-based “paintings” after a residency at Materials for the Arts.

“Turner is partly inspired by the history of women’s creative production, which was once largely through the clothes they made, the food they prepared, and even the hair they fixed,” says Frist Art Museum Curator Katie Delmez. “Today, as more women work outside the home, and with the proliferation of inexpensive clothing and pre-prepared food, many modern women lack the skills or opportunities to make objects by hand. Turner strives to bring visibility to the often overlooked or unappreciated handiwork of women in the past, while simultaneously pushing this legacy forward through her artistic constructs.”

Although her works are largely abstract, many are meant to suggest atmospheres, landscapes, or archetypal female figures such as Eve or Ophelia. The first gallery will showcase textile paintings in which long strips of vintage ribbons and torn sheets, standing in for brushstrokes, are sewn onto canvas backings. The works are colorful and intense and are meant to evoke the young Wild Woman, an ambitious, uninhibited figure who is deeply engaged with her surroundings and relationships, and does not shy away from making waves. “One large work, Storm System, suggests the light, color, and drama that Turner experienced as she watched a storm travel across Old Hickory Lake from her studio shortly after she returned to Tennessee,” says Delmez. “For her, the energy of the Wild Woman and the environment merge.”

Since giving birth to her two sons, Turner has explored the concept of the female body serving as a vessel—“for a time fertile and full, and then dormant and empty,” says Delmez. The second section will focus on motherhood and includes a series of ribbon, resin, and plexiglas works that present the phases of a woman’s potential fertility. Also featured will be a sculptural “puddle” made of breast milk (her own) and acrylic paint captured in resin. Sticks gathered from burn piles on the family’s property float in various patterns, creating a poignant merger of a life-giving substance with the remains of a destructive force.

The last gallery will contain a body of work made within the last six months that reexamines the definition of “heirloom” and the value assigned to objects and traditions a woman passes down to her descendants. “The series is perhaps a natural outgrowth of the fact that Turner lived in her grandparents’ home, surrounded by their things, for nearly two years when she and her family moved back to Tennessee,” says Delmez. “She invited female members of the community, including residents of the assisted living facility where her grandmother currently resides—and after whom she is named—to share with her some of their life experiences.” Turner collected and pondered these stories, which she calls “wisdoms.” In response to the interviews, she created textile paintings on quilt substrates that present four types of heirlooms the elders described: object-, place-, ritual-, and spirit-based. The project is very personal for the artist, yet it investigates a near-universal subject to which most people, and especially women, can relate.

About the Artist
Vadis Turner (b. 1977) received a BFA in painting (1999) and an MFA in studio teaching (2000) from Boston University. Turner’s work has been featured in exhibitions in the United States and Europe and is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the Tennessee State Museum, and 21c Museum Hotels. She is represented by Geary Contemporary in New York and was recently awarded a prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation grant.

Exhibition Credit

This exhibition was organized by the Frist Art Museum.

Public Programs

Thursday, September 7
Artist’s Perspective: Vadis Turner
6:30 p.m.

Frist Art Museum Auditorium
Free; first come, first seated

Join the artist for insights on her process and her influences.

Sponsor Acknowledgment

The Frist Art Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Friends of Contemporary Art.

This exhibition is supported in part by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Buddy Kite: 615.744.3351, ”
Ellen Jones Pryor: 615.243.1311, ”

~ ~ ~

About the Frist Art Museum
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Frist Art Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit art exhibition center dedicated to presenting and originating high-quality exhibitions with related educational programs and community outreach activities. Located at 919 Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tenn., the Frist Art Museum offers the finest visual art from local, regional, national, and international sources in exhibitions that inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways. The Frist Art Museum’s Martin ArtQuest Gallery features interactive stations relating to Frist Art Museum exhibitions. Information on accessibility can be found at FristArtMuseum.org/accessibility. Gallery admission is free for visitors 18 and younger and for members; $12 for adults; $9 for seniors and college students with ID; and $7 for active military. College students are admitted free Thursday and Friday evenings (with the exception of Frist Fridays), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Groups of 10 or more can receive discounts with advance reservations by calling 615.744.3247. The galleries, café, and gift shop are open seven days a week: Mondays through Wednesdays, and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays, 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.; and Sundays, 1:00–5:30 p.m., with the café opening at noon. For additional information, call 615.244.3340 or visit FristArtMuseum.org.

# # #

Please consider supporting the Frist Art Museum with a donation. Your gift is essential to our mission of serving the community through the arts and art access in particular. We truly appreciate your generosity.