Khari Turner’s Enigmatic Artistry: Boundaries of the Sea

The Light Between Oceans: Exploring Art, Identity, and Water


Have you ever pondered the question, “If I met my ancestors at the edge of the ocean, would I bring flowers?” It’s a profound notion that artist Khari Turner contemplated during an interview. This simple rhetorical question sparked a moment of clarity for Turner, unleashing a deep exploration of his art and personal journey. In this article, we delve into Turner’s unique experiences and his artistic exploration of water as a symbol of transportation, navigation, life force, and personal identity.

From Milwaukee to NYC: A Journey Fueled by Passion

Born in Milwaukee and now based in New York City, Turner’s artistic journey has been anything but conventional. He began his artistic endeavors with graffiti art, using random boards as his canvas to avoid confrontation. However, his artistic inspiration stemmed from his grandfather, a draftsman who nurtured Turner’s passion for art. Spending time with his grandparents and observing his grandfather’s drawings, Turner found solace and inspiration in the world of art.

Milwaukee Art Scene: A Blend of Styles

When discussing Milwaukee’s art scene, Turner highlights the prevalence of graphic design-style murals funded by the city. However, he acknowledges that there are many other artists in the inner city creating their own unique works, including graffiti art. As Turner’s artistic journey began with graffiti, this vibrant and dynamic art form played an influential role in shaping his artistic style.

The Role of Water in Turner’s Art

Over the past few years, Turner’s artwork has revolved around exploring the properties of water. This fascination with water as a medium and symbol has become a defining aspect of his art. Turner reflects on the connections between water, Black identity, and historical context. He delves into the significance of water in relation to segregated pools and the importance of learning to swim for marginalized communities. Water serves as a metaphorical bridge, linking his personal experiences to collective histories.

Abstracting the Universal Message

Turner’s artistic evolution led him to experiment with abstraction, allowing for a clearer and more universal message to emerge. By creating a disconnect between the viewer and the specific individuals depicted in his art, Turner encourages a broader engagement with the themes he explores. Through abstraction, he aims to ignite discussions on various topics, transcending the focus on individuals and inviting viewers to contemplate the concepts he presents.

Incarnating Water in Art: An Alchemical Process

In his exploration of water as an artistic medium, Turner discovered a captivating interaction between paint and the substance of water itself. The composition of ocean water, with its salt and minerals, created unique transformations in his art. This revelation prompted Turner to incorporate water from various sources into his work, adding historical context and expanding the narrative behind each piece.

Water as a Symbol of Connection and Identity

For Turner, water not only represents a physical element but also serves as a metaphor for connection and identity. He views both himself and other individuals as bodies of water, emphasizing the shared human experience. Through his art, Turner seeks to establish a connection between the viewer and the water depicted, transcending superficialities such as skin tone and engaging in a deeper conversation about shared experiences and histories.

The Eureka Moments: Finding Clarity in the Work

Turner experienced two pivotal moments during his artistic journey. The first occurred during quarantine when he created a large piece on paper with multiple branches resembling the coronavirus. This artwork confirmed to him that he had discovered the direction he wanted to pursue. The second moment happened in Venice when Turner created a piece titled “Meeting of Two Oceans.” This artwork, with its incorporation of ocean water and flowers, solidified his artistic vision and highlighted the power of the question about meeting ancestors at the edge of the ocean.

A Solo Exhibition: Exploring Turner’s Artistry

Turner’s talent and artistic exploration will be showcased in a solo exhibition at the Ross-Sutton Gallery in New York City. The exhibition, running from July 10th to August 7th, 2021, provides an opportunity for viewers to engage with Turner’s thought-provoking artwork and explore the depths of his artistic journey.


Khari Turner’s artistic evolution from graffiti art to profound explorations of water as a symbol of connection, identity, and history is truly remarkable. His ability to blend realism and abstraction invites viewers to engage in meaningful conversations that transcend surface-level observations. As Turner continues to push artistic boundaries, his work serves as a testament to the power of art in representing personal and collective experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How did Khari Turner’s early experiences shape his artistic journey?

Turner’s early experiences, including observing his grandfather’s drawings and experimenting with graffiti art, laid the foundation for his artistic passion and exploration.

2. What role does water play in Turner’s art?

Water serves as a central theme in Turner’s artwork, symbolizing transportation, navigation, identity, and historical context. He explores the connections between water, Black identity, and shared human experiences.

3. How does Turner combine realism and abstraction in his art?

Turner utilizes a blend of realism and abstraction to convey his messages effectively. By creating a disconnect between specific individuals and viewers, he encourages a universal engagement with his artwork.

4. What pivotal moments led Turner to find clarity in his artistic vision?

During quarantine, Turner created a significant piece that solidified his artistic direction. Additionally, the creation of “Meeting of Two Oceans” in Venice offered a profound insight into the power of incorporating water as a medium.

5. Where can viewers experience Khari Turner’s artwork?

Turner’s solo exhibition will be held at the Ross-Sutton Gallery in New York City from July 10th to August 7th, 2021. This exhibition offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Turner’s thought-provoking artistry.