Black Alchemy approaches identity, racial passing, abstraction, the historical archive, ontology, and the studio while also thinking about the Black artist as a subject and blackness as material. Black Alchemy's lens explores what "Black art" is and what a Black artist is, concerning the Black experience's representation. It also addresses the discourse of photography, and radical movement re-questioning social and racial justice, while engaging abstraction as a tool to shift questions of identity within an established, often monolithic historical narrative. Various historical issues are pursued through a large format view camera of constructed spaces and installations within the studio. The photos build a physical representation of my internal monologue about abstraction, race, history, and my response to found artifacts in the studio.
In an article titled 'Why, it's not enough to say black is beautiful' by Frank Bowling (1971) stated: "the traditional aesthetic of black art is often considered pragmatic, uncluttered, and direct, hinging on secrecy and disguise." Bowling's statement resonates with me and how I engage with representation in art through photography. In my work, I use abstraction to consider the following ideas, thoughts, or questions:
Aaron Turner is an Arkansas based artist and educator. He uses photography to pursue personal stories of people of color, in two main areas of the U.S., the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas. Aaron also uses the view camera to create still life studies on race, history, blackness as material, and the role of the Black artist. His awards include a 2018 Light Work Artists-in-Residence, 2019 EnFoco Photography Fellowship, and 2020 Project Space Residency at the Visual Studies Workshop. He is also the coordinator of The Center for Photographers of Color at the University of Arkansas School of Art and host of the Photographers of Color podcast.