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Clarksville, TN – Two recent Austin Peay State University (APSU) graduates will step through the doors of a prestigious art institute – the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution – in western New York later this week.
They’ll join 36 other young artists from across the country during a seven-week “incubator of inclusive and expansive programming in the visual arts” comprising classes, workshops and one-on-one time with world-renowned artists such as Wendy Red Star and Hasan Elahi.
The two graduates – Khari Turner and Ashanté Kindle – also will step through a door bridging their time at Austin Peay and their futures. Turner starts as a graduate student at Columbia University in September, and Kindle will seek her master’s at the University of Connecticut in August.
“Austin Peay has meant the world to me,” Kindle said. “I’ve been given so many opportunities. My life has been changed here. All the people I’ve met, I’ve made family.
“Austin Peay has set me up for life.”
In Awe Of The Whole Situation
The Chautauqua Institution has a long history of summertime academia that dates to 1874 and includes such visitors as Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson. The school is listed as a National Historic Landmark District.
Chautauqua’s School of Art meets every summer and welcomes “emerging artists who have yet to receive wide recognition of their work,” according to the Chautauqua website. The school “intentionally breaks apart the traditional methods that silo disciplines from each other and instead embraces a full range of studio and pragmatic studies.”
“It’s going to be all of us together doing all of this,” he added. “I’m going to dive in and get as much from it as possible while also making insanely different or unique works.”
Kindle is eager to see the diversity of the work coming from various artists and backgrounds. She’s also looking forward to the focus the school will provide.
“This is going to be the first time I’m actually able to sit and focus on what I want my work to say, what I want to do with my work,” she said. “Creating new relationships with people I probably would have never met otherwise.
Once I Got Here, I Knew I Wasn’t Stopping
Kindle and Turner are similar beyond being emerging artists. Both are nontraditional students in their late-20s who took extended breaks from college before enrolling at Austin Peay State University.
“I was outside school for a little bit,” Turner, who quickly quit college after high school because of financial aid problems, said. “I tried to make (art) work, but the work I was making was stagnant because I wasn’t learning while I was making work.
Kindle started as an accounting major before dropping out: “I was, ‘Wow, this is NOT what I want to do.’”
“Once I finally decided to follow what I was called to do, one thing came after another,” she said. “Art has taught me a lot more than how to make beautiful things. I’ve learned to look at myself as art and appreciate who I am and what I have to offer the world.
“Honestly, I think art saved my life,” Kindle added.
You Really Can Make A Change
Kindle and Turner see the opportunity to advance their work at Chautauqua.
“The education I’m receiving is important because my painting is informed only by the things I know. If I don’t know anything, then I’m not painting,” Turner said.
His ultimate goal is to start conversations that inspire how people view others in the world.
“I think moving people is the hardest thing to do,” Turner said. “Once you can figure that out, that’s when you really can make change.”
Kindle added: “I feel like I was given these gifts and either I’m going to run from them or I’m going to run to them.
“I’m going to take every opportunity given to me to make (my gifts) better,” she said. “I feel like the opportunity at Chautauqua is a major one.”
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TopicsAPSU, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Clarksville TN, Columbia University, Khari Turner, New York, University of Connecticut
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