Aaron Turner: Served with Distinction (WWII), 2018
From the series: BLACK ALCHEMY
Archival pigment print, 50 x 40"
July 13, 2020
"When I made Served with Distinction (WWII), I was thinking about how the treatment of African American service members during WWII played as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. Black veterans were met with acts of violence upon their return to the country they had defended but did not let this deter them from organizing in opposition to the system that rejected them. They instead used their experiences from military service to challenge Jim Crow. During this time, many black veterans from WWII played a vital role in the movement, joining the NAACP and, later on, the SNCC.
I use abstraction to explore identity, and to create speculative spaces around the past and present. I often reflect on specific points in history to call attention to overlooked injustices. I aim to shift the analysis away from or toward the black artist as subject, and emphasize blackness as material, insisting on blackness as a multiplicity. "
Aaron Turner (b.1990) is a photographer and educator currently based in Arkansas. Aaron uses photography to create still-life studies on the topics of race, history, blackness as material, and the role of the black artist. He received his M.A. from Ohio University and an M.F.A. from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Awards include 2018 Light Work Artist-in-Residence at Syracuse University; 2019 Enfoco Photography Fellow; and 2020 Visual Studies Workshop Project Space Artist in Residence. He is also the host of The Photographers of Color Podcast.