Cinili Turkce  



In collaboration with Marmara Çini, a traditional çini atelier in Kütahya, and over thirty Turkish artists, American artist Marie Porterfield Barry initiated a collaborative public art installation which merges the classical with the contemporary, the craft arts with the fine arts, the individual with the collective, the parça with the bütün.  Using the traditional Ottoman method of underglaze-painted quartz tiles, artists constructed designs meant to reference tradition while exploring new concepts in design, collaboration, and the role of the individual artist as part of a larger collective.

This cross-cultural collaboration seeks to emphasize and explore the contrasting concepts of the artist in the American and the Turkish traditions.  Although an ever-globalizing, homogenizing worldview is drawing the method of artists from varying backgrounds nearer, cultural traditions continue to play an important role in our societies.  As an American artist, Marie Porterfield Barry is formally trained in a tradition that commonly emphasizes the importance of the artist as individual, the ideal of the solitary genius, and the role of distinctiveness.  In contrast, the classical atelier system in Turkish traditional arts emphasizes the importance of cooperation and the sharing of ideas and responsibilities, resulting in monumental and unified works of art which could not easily be produced by a single artist in a lifetime. The collaborative project, by preserving these distinct artistic traditions, seeks to integrate the two concepts, that of creativity and that of collectivity, into one unified vision.

The final work is an exploration and documentation of the role of the creative individual within the collective.  Over thirty artists participated, ranging from contemporary masters to emerging tile artists, from ceramicists to oil painters, calligraphers to miniaturists.  The physical tiles will be installed permanently in Kütahya, Turkey, where the tradition of painted ceramics stretches back through centuries and empires, but essentially the project lives here in the ethereal space that connects our now less distant worlds.

The collaborative mural is as much about crossing borders as it is about celebrating history.  It features imagery from the Ottoman Empire, the Seljuq Dynasty, Phrygian Kingdom, and the Armenian tradition as well as examples of many of Turkey’s most important classical art forms, including classical tile motifs, miniature painting, geometry, and calligraphy, alongside more contemporary styles influenced by animation, Surrealism, illustration, graphic design, and the representational realism of the Western art tradition. As the lines in each design reach toward the corner of every tile, the traditional and the contemporary, the foreign and the local, and all the individual artists within the collective reach out toward one another, toward a singular vision.

The method of the collaborative project is informed by a deep investigation into the history of tile installation in the region that is modern-day Turkey.  Examples survive from as early as the eleventh century Seljuq Dynasty through the Ottoman Period depicting similarly arranged compilations of tiles. Overseen by a master artist, however, historical tile installations from the Seljuq and Ottoman periods did not seek to emphasize the role of the individual artists but rather the vision of a single master artist working under the patronage of sultans or wealthy nobility. 




Marie Barry lived in Kütahya for ten months studying Turkish tile painting in the Marmara Çini atolier while traveling within Turkey to research the history of painted ceramics, the evidence of which can be viewed in the Archive. Her research, travel, and ten months living in Turkey were sponsored by a Fulbright Research Grant in Creative & Performing Arts. Without the generosity and kindness of the welcoming people at Marmara Çini and the support of many artists and individuals in Kütahya this project would not have been possible.

Special thanks to Lütfi Yiğit, Ismail Yiğit, Kübra Köse and the Benli family, Samuel Barry, Selçuk Acar, Nur Çayırdağ, Süleyman Eriş, Gülay Ceylan, Özlem Akyüz, Asiye Yiğit, Zekiye Abla, Saadet Abla, Hülya Tunaboylu, the Turkish Fulbright Commission, and all of the talented artists who were generous enough to contribute to the project.



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