The people’s choice
Meet the artist who won TulsaPeople's People's Choice Award at Resonance's Art for the Soul event.
Erin Turner has experienced the power of art. She saw it transform the lives of women in Argentinian prisons when she worked with an artist there. They were women who imagined and then painted the night sky, although they had not seen it in years; women who used art to carve out an identity that they had lost during their time in incarceration.
Turner has seen the impact of artistic expression in Tulsa, too. As art coordinator at Resonance Center for Women Inc., she teaches classes and workshops for women who have recently been released from prison or are at risk of going to prison. Turner also takes them on visits to museums and galleries and helps organize showings of their work.
“I’m not an artist therapist by any means,” Turner says. “I don’t deal with therapy at all. But it is art dealing with therapy and rehabilitation and giving a healthy form of recreation.”
In what free time that remains, Turner enjoys creating her own art. She began painting nine years ago on her own and then received formal instruction as part of a free after-school program. That sparked her interest in pursuing art professionally, and she spent a year and a half studying at the Pratt Institute in New York City, later returning to Tulsa to continue her education at The University of Tulsa.
It was her own work for which Turner received her most recent recognition — she was named TulsaPeople’s People’s Choice Award winner for her piece “Generations” at Resonance’s Art for the Soul event June 18.
Turner says her piece is part of a series focusing on Meso-American culture and philosophy, which has interested her since childhood.
As for the future, Turner says she has goals to one day sell more of her work, and possibly create her own art collective. This month, she also will be going on tour with Ptiaradactyl, a local performance-based band of which she is a member. She says she would even like to work with women in prison again, reliving her experience in Argentina.
“It was such a powerful thing to see how art can totally transform your world, and I think that’s what I was so drawn to,” Turner says. “ … People who grasp on to that can really benefit.”