I'm Madelyn Turner, a figurative painter based in Illinois. I have my BA in studio art, and I am currently pursuing an MFA degree with Illinois State University. I am interested in the space between figuration and abstraction, and how this exploration can create a new way of exploring my body and experiences with the societal consciousness of feminine identity.
Through my work I wrestle with society’s idealized construction of the female form and its relationship to my body. Exposing my fragmented feelings of identity caused by these external constructs of the female form reveals my vulnerability to these issues as I work through expansive waves of anger and grief. Through drawing and painting I unearth past experiences, exploring my feelings of that moment. I emotionally and physically connect with the viscerality of oil paint. By layering and excavating paint, I conceal and reveal my emotional weight of dealing with societal pressures of perfection that surround the female form. As I paint I leave traces of my unconscious reactions to these internalized standards using automatic processes. I allow raw emotion and memories to come through, in an effort to purge myself of unachievable goals. My approach to painting is a conversation with the work as I discover and give shape to figures. This process creates distance between my direct perception of my physical body and opens the space of accepting my body as it is. My goal is to arrive at a point of healing within my practice. I hope by exposing my vulnerabilities, I open up a space for the viewer to search, and question the emotions they feel while viewing it.
What continues to motivate you to create your work?
My process of painting itself is a driving force for me to keep working. It has become a way for me to wrestle with society’s idealized construction of the female form and its relationship to my body. I’ve found that by exposing my fragmented feelings of identity caused by these external constructs of the female form and my vulnerability to these issues, the more involved and motivated I am to keep working in hopes to open a space of dialog between the painting and viewer.
Who or what influences your practice?
Feminist theory is a major influence for me. Currently, Julia Kristeva’s writings have been a huge inspiration for my most recent works. Her take on the abject and how it is necessary to break down boundaries between subject and object is what really sticks with me.
How would you describe the mood of your work?
I often get feedback that my work is jarring and uncomfortable, but I find my paintings to be comforting! So, I would say my work is two-fold. There is often a drumming anger or grief, but I have also found that the enveloping and sinking forms in my work want to be held and comforted amidst the chaos.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an artist?
I find that time management is very challenging as an artist. You must make time for your work. My work has become such an important part of my life that if I don’t make time for it, I can’t focus on my other day-to-day responsibilities!
Tell us about something from your creative life that you are particularly proud of.
I am very proud of my ambition. If I did not have this ambition, my work would not be as powerful as it is, and I would have missed so many opportunities to strengthen my paintings. This ambition and drive that I’ve developed over the years is what got me into graduate school – the most important thing that I am proud of in all aspects!