Walls, جُدران
Maryam Turkey

252 Java Street, Brooklyn, New York
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 21, 2023

There was freedom in childhood. It was then Maryam Turkey began to paint. It was the onset of puberty that brought the walls of restriction caving in, during the American invasion and the civil war in Baghdad, Iraq. After their first menstrual cycle, “good” Iraqi girls are expected to wear the hijab and prepare for a life in the home, and often at the service of the men around them. For Turkey, bleeding represented submission; submission to imposed womanhood and joining the weakest demographic of a male dominant society. As weak as chickens? As weak as those helpless creatures that wandered aimlessly through her neighborhood, existing merely to be consumed? 

In Turkey’s solo show Walls, جُدران . she returns to her child spirit, painting her imagination, mixing dreams with memories. It is a reflection, a remembrance, and a reclamation. Turkey paints with vivid colors, mixed textures and patterns from a childish vision, the lens she remembers. The use of materials evoke the feeling of the object such as the textured clay that represents the heavy mud walls she was surrounded by. She captures the carefree postures of childhood that became restricted by the confinement of imposed womanhood. We are within and without architecture, within and without society. Repetition of tiles and fabrics help draw our attention to the natural cadence of texturally painted surfaces.  

Walls become juxtaposed mirrors reflecting back to us who we are and who we want to be as opposed to who we are expected to be. it is us who carved out our identity and subjectivity, through these walls. it is not invasion and displacement that shattered the walls, though it has a lot to do with it, it is us who grew beyond them, confirming/reassuring the subject's agency.

In a patriarchal existence, a woman often walks a path of illusory choices. At society’s most destructive,  women suffer the most. though even in a “civilized” environment, women's autonomy is under attack. Yet, one can learn about freedom through imprisonment.

Maryam Turkey is an Iraqi-American artist based in Brooklyn, NY. In 2009, she moved with her family as refugees to the United States where she attended Baltimore School for the Arts high school and learned traditional painting. She then continued her art and design education at Pratt Institute where she earned her Bachelor of Industrial Design in 2017. Shortly after graduation, Turkey was awarded an art residency at Domaine de Boisbuchet where she was mentored by Sabine Marcelis. Turkey’s sculptural practice began then. In 2019 she was awarded an art residency at the Museum of Art and Design where she developed her paper clay techniques. Following up with several other residencies such as the Silver Arts Residency in the WTC, and LMCC in the Governor’s Island. Turkey was selected as one of the 7 most talented artists to show her series “Between Rise and Fall” at the Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery as part of the Next Gen, stories from the new world. Turkey is featured in Arch Digest as “one to watch” as well as, Surface magazine, Galerie Magazine, Interior Magazine and Wall street Journal. Her latest group show participation titled Anthem X, was at Malin Gallery at Art Basel of 2022. 

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