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Genesis Turris MFA/MA’25 uses Graduate Curatorial Fellowship to engage PNCA community and beyond

by Linda Lenhoff,

Genesis Turris MFA/MA’25, who is pursuing a dual MFA in Print Media with an MA in Critical Studies, served as the PNCA Center for Contemporary Art & Culture’s Graduate Curatorial Fellow for Fall 2023. As the curatorial fellow, Turris curated a variety of exhibitions for the college community and the public.

Turris says he was drawn to PNCA by its dedication to social engagement, a theme he reflects in his own work.

“A lot of my art speaks to the theme of urban decay, and I use social practice in my work,” Turris says. “It’s the social engagement that creates the work: instead of being presented with a body, you’re inviting the guests to be part of the creative process. That participation is really the art form in itself,” he adds.

In his recent exhibition called Walls Translate Identity, Turris created an artspace titled The Shadowbox, where guests could enter and “do anything on the walls,” using duct tape, spray paint, markers, and more. “Any object that was in the room was free to express yourself with,” he says. The purpose? “A lot of times you go into creative spaces, and you’re not allowed to touch. Or you may not have the space to be creative in your daily routine, so I wanted to give that moment to the public,” he says.

With the fellowship, Turris introduced the theme of social consciousness to the events he curated. His exhibition in the Tiny Thumb Student Gallery began with a land acknowledgment, a practice that has become an essential way for him to introduce space. The statement was above the visitors’ heads, requiring them to step in and engage. Future exhibits will examine themes such as the American experience through the lens of immigrants, the effect of technology, and the history of queer culture and feminism.

Another example of Turris’s curatorial style is the exhibition shoji reality by artist Mai Ide, which was held as part of PNCA’s Graduate Symposium. The exhibit placed the visitor in a shoji-screened off environment. Turris says, “This exhibition creates a living conversation by inserting the viewer into an inescapable grid to define identity within a systemic world.”

Public engagement with art is a passion for Turris. He received his BFA in Studio Art from California State University, Sacramento where he founded the IMPACT Club (Individuals Motivating Progress Across Communities Together), a student organization made up of local artists and creators, served as President of the Print Club, and as Project Developer for the Sacramento State Public Art Map.

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