If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Karin Turner’s paintings are full-blown stories waiting to be unleashed for the masses to indulge. Currently residing and creating in Oakland, California, this visual artist specializes in the ever-appealing diverse spectrum of African American images. Her brightly colored original acrylic and watercolor paintings, are quickly gaining notice for their individuality as well as their bold and optimistically titled imagery.
While each painting carries its own title and message to be conveyed, Turner’s work is synonymous with the single thought of uplifting optimism. Her images feature a semi-autobiographical character “H2oMelon Girl™” who boasts a crown of exotic natural hair, lives in the moment, and is happy with the curvaceous figure she possesses. In addition to the purposely varied skin tones that reflect the diversity of her ethnic heritage, a repeated constant is Turner’s trademark, the ever present H2omelon imagery – her metaphor for Life.
“Because art is both objective and subjective, people unify their unique perceptions and experiences when digesting my art,” she offers. “Take one of my H2omelon Mermaids for example, if I’m a full figured woman of color who’s not accustomed to seeing a full figured female illustrated in such a positive manner, this mermaid image might be one I’m attracted to because it offers a glimpse of something I can personally identify with – something fantastical that looks like me! Or perhaps if I have an interest in mythical creatures, but am not a woman of color, I might embrace these Lusciously different Black mermaids simply because I’ve never seen anything like them before, and because they represent something which never occurred to me.” She adds,” The reason why my art is appealing to a broad demographic is as varied as the stripes on a watermelon!”
Over the past 20 years Turner has built her winning idea of uplifting inspirational images out her initial branding of her H2omelon philosophy of “No Chicken -No Watermelon Please!” This statement narrated her early H2oMelon Girl ™ paintings and was initially conceived to challenge racially stereotypical views imposed upon her as a youthful African American female.
After realizing that she was succumbing to the negative proposition of others, she rendered that a change of heart was necessary.
“After a while I just couldn’t stay there, because that’s somebody else’s problem…I love chicken, and I love watermelon, but I refuse to have a dialog of any kind with someone who is surprised that I don’t live “down” to their stereotype of what an African American should be, so now the H20melon imagery is a metaphor for life.”
“Everyone is given life, to have a passive existence is to not value what you’ve been blessed with- so, I believe in cracking open the melon, and tasting it! Some days it’s not so sweet, but we all know that we live for the sweet days, that’s what carries us on through past the next hard time to come.”
Turner maintains that as we task our senses by tasting, seeing, viewing and acknowledging our emotions while indulging in a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ watermelon, that it is very much a relative experience to consuming life itself.
“The whole process starts and ends with the seed,” she discloses. In her imagery whether it’s a heart, which is representative of loved ones, or a trilogy of juggled melons in the air representing our constant attempt as humans to find balance for all of the “important things”, Turner’s mission to find clarity through analysis and metaphor is obvious.
“We all have to find our balance in life and learn more than one thing at a time…”
Although progressive, these are not super heavy images, and their presence awards happiness as something to be had by all who choose to embrace this philosophy,though they are not without substance.
Turner has found her balance in illustrating optimism, which she believes is equally necessary if not more than the negative challenges the serendipity of life brings to the table.
In the spirit of true love for her craft, Turner remains a humble conduit for the masses to latch onto in dire times.