On Cleveland: Notes from a Turkish Artist

My name is Serpil and I am a visual artist, writer and school counselor visiting Cleveland from  Istanbul, Turkey.  I am working with Young Audiences for several months, and my visit is made possible by The Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion program.  I wanted to share a few impressions about my experience so far.

Since I arrived about a month ago, I have been working with the high school students in Young Audiences’ ArtWorks program.  I am learning and sharing a lot.  I am really impressed that the ArtWorks apprentices are able to work outside in Mother Nature.  When I heard this is where the program takes place, I thought is this possible?  But I have seen that it is more than possible in ArtWorks.  The apprentices are very focused.

As a school counselor I can see the ArtWorks apprentices developing and exhibiting self awareness, individuality, collaboration, self esteem and self respect.  This is very important for young people and a wonderful outcome of the program.

I am teaching the ArtWorks apprentices the Turkish art of paper marbling, also known as Ebru. The technique consists of sprinkling pigment on the surface of a bath of very viscous liquid.  By carefully laying paper over the bath, the floating pigment on top of it is readily transferred to the paper; thus, each Ebru is a one-of-a-kind print.

To obtain beautiful Ebru results, one needs to have a light hand, refined taste and an open mind to the unexpected patterns forming on the water. Patience and a good knowledge of traditional culture are characteristic of Ebru masters.

Turkish Marbled Paper

Cleveland is very amazing city about art especially.   Art is everywhere here, and life is art for me, so I like to be in Cleveland and work here.  People are very helpful and “warm blooded” which is like the Turkish people.

I noticed some differences between American and Turkish students.  Students here have more freedom about what they want to do.  In Turkey there is one set curriculum for the entire country, but here every region has something different.  But I think kids are kids around the world!  Humor and art gives all students a chance to open up and share their experiences.

I suppose paper marbling is a rare thing here, so I am glad to share the beauty of this art form and a little Turkish culture with so many people in Cleveland.

— Serpil Sevgen Schmutz, Young Audiences visiting artist-in-residence from Istanbul, Turkey

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One Response to On Cleveland: Notes from a Turkish Artist

  1. Here are some great photos of Serpil working with students at ArtWorks on paper marbling: http://www.phatratstereo.com/serpil.html

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