Milwaukee artist Khari Turner uses locally sourced water in paintings

Growing up in Milwaukee, rarely far from Lake Michigan, artist Khari Turner thought about water “all the time,” including its leading role in the composition of human bodies.

While doing a residency in Venice, California, he used a little Pacific Ocean water in a painting.

Then his brain “exploded.”

“What locations can I put into this? I can now physically put he actual history into the paintings in one way or another,” said during an interview at the Museum of Wisconsin Art, where his artwork is on view.

“If I go to a location where maybe a massacre happened, or maybe a baptism happened, I can put the water in that location in this work, and then talk about that space at the same time.”

Milwaukee native Khari Turner is showing new paintings at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend.

“Mirroring Reflection” at MOWA in West Bend brings together 20 of Turner’s recent paintings, which blend abstraction with realistic depiction of black lips and noses. While his focus on those facial features began with a different motivation, it became “an opportunity to talk about beauty, or to talk about breath and liveliness … an opportunity to talk about something beautiful, and about something that matters.”

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