Photo credit Imani Thomas
hale.ekinci [at] gmail.com
Hale Ekinci is a Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist with strong ties to her Turkish heritage. She received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media at Columbia College Chicago and is currently an Associate Professor of Art & Design at North Central College. Focusing on personal history, cultural identity, gender politics, and craft traditions, her works vary from videos and fiber installation to embroidery paintings embellished with vibrant colors, patterns, and autobiographical relics.
She is currently a Hatch Projects Artist Resident at Chicago Artist Coalition. Her work has been exhibited nationally at EXPO Chicago, Woman Made Gallery, Giertz Gallery, Bridgeport Art Center, VAE, St. Louis Artists’ Guild, and Queens College Art Center. Her international video screenings include The Nightingale Cinema, Filmfront, College of DuPage, Musrara Mix Festival (Jerusalem, Israel) Trestle Gallery (New York City), CAN TV (Cable Access Channel 21), Momentum Worldwide (Berlin, Germany) and Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland). She has been awarded the “Figure and Fiber Award” by Surface Design Association and has completed residencies at ACRE, Jiwar Barcelona, Momentum Worldwide Berlin, and Elsewhere Museum.
Drawing on the layers of history, transcultural identity, and gender, I paint and embroider colorful family portraits. Domestic fabric surfaces like bedsheets set the stage for solvent transfers of old photos from my Turkish heritage and my American husband. To play with the malleability of self and cultural representation, I obscure the bodies and faces with pattern and color; these families could belong to anyone or no one of a particular background. Using Islamic arts of ornamentation, I embellish the images by painting over the patterns of the fabric and embroidering eclectic, at times gendered, cultural symbols like party hats or papal garments that add an element of humor when combined with carefully posed scenes. Humor, an influential part of my heritage, is fueled by oppression and lack of power and materializes in my work through narratives, satire, and interweaving of customs. These scenes that are inspired by such narratives are then framed with customized, colorful crochet edgings—a nod to the old tradition of “oya” which is a narrow lace trimming used on headdresses of women and household textiles. Both oya and ornamentation hold symbolic meaning based on the shapes and colors that are used as secret communication by their creators—mainly women. The large scale works roll up like rugs, hang like tapestries, and add numerous solvent transfers of social gatherings like protests or celebrations, where the personal and the collective coalesce into one history. Political scenes of the masses peak through layers of decorative symbols in acrylic paint and inkjet monotypes. Similar to the way identity is constructed, through a heavily additive process adorned with a combination of symbolic patterns and densely layered imagery, my work explores the complexity of communication and translation—translation of culture, identity, tradition, and gendered labor.
Women Cinemakers, Special Edition, Biennale Interview, 2018
The Rich History of “Women’s Work”, Kolaj Magazine - Kolaj Fest Highlights, 2018
Voyage Chicago - Local Stories, Interview, 2018