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Meet Hale Ekinci in Heart of Chicago and West Pilsen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hale Ekinci.

Hale, please share your story with us. 
I was always dabbling in art but was too much of a high achieving student at a school in Turkey to make art my main focus until later. I received a scholarship to study in the US which allowed me to major in Art while also majoring in Computer Science in case I did not succeed; I was brought up with certain expectations. Upon graduation, I returned to Istanbul and worked as a graphic designer that further reinforced my desire to be an artist. I came back to the states for my MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media at Columbia College Chicago and got a teaching job after. Currently, I am an Associate Professor of Art at North Central College in Naperville and actively exhibit my artwork of various mediums including video, mixed media drawing, and fiber installations.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being a foreigner with limited economic resources has been a major challenge getting started as an artist and immigrant. There was always the pressure of not being able to “stay” if I did not get a job that would sponsor me or that I would have to start all over again going back to my home country. Being an artist, a female artist, in the states in itself has its challenges. Adding the uncertainty of legal status on top of that makes it even more complicated and at times renders certain opportunities unreachable. All of these, however, can, of course, be plusses sometimes as well.

Please tell us about HALE EKINCI.
Pictorial histories, gender politics, and traditions from my Turkish upbringing form the basis of my visual vocabulary. My work can be compared to my main influence, indigenous textiles – colorful, pattern-based visuals derived from merging symbols with myth from which they acquire hidden significance and esoteric symbolism. Similarly, I explore my heritage, my alien status living in the US, and the rich history of “women’s work” through non-linear narrative videos and mixed media paintings that are juxtaposed with craft. Historically, textiles and photos are used as a place for recording information and telling stories – like a language, at times hard to decipher.

As a foreigner, I’m fascinated by language, especially idioms, systems of communication, and approaching the indigenous visual patterns as a form of typography. I transfer collaged photos of collectives and families onto paper and fabric surfaces; figures painted atop the works act as focal points. Framed with crochet edgings, these pictorial scenes are presented like tapestries and headscarves, telling my sometimes-cryptic personal folklore of mixed language, politics, and spectacle. Applying techniques of collage to the moving image, my multi-layered, animated videos explore immigrant identity as seen from both Turkish and foreign perspectives. Using a combination of field video, green screen, still images, and drawings, I craft non-linear narratives where relations, identity conventions, rituals, and women’s issues result intense scenes that reflect the universal bizarreness of traditions and stereotypes (excerpt from my artist statement).

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I might have persisted to become an artist earlier in my career, but then again, all my other endeavors make me who I am, feed into my art, and open up different kinds of opportunities that I don’t know if I would give them up either. I am fascinated by a lot of different disciplines besides art and believe that the more winding road I took to become an artist actually served me as a whole in the end.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Hale Ekinci

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