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Meet Ahmet Arslan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ahmet Arslan.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ahmet. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was born in a small village in rural Anatolia. Art was not something commonly pursued there. I came across art after trying other paths in life, when I first took a class at a small local studio in a nearby town. After this experience, I chose to re-enter university as an art education major and later pursued my master’s in fine arts. I have been working to develop myself as an artist and art educator while I’ve traveled and lived across Turkey, Europe, and the United States.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The first, most important challenge is, once I decide to pursue art and become an artist, challenging the societal view that art is inherently meaningless, does not add anything of value to society.

Next, when you become an artist and you find yourself in the art world, there is another mindset you meet–the art world’s ideas of what is appropriate or approved art. To be true to yourself and struggle against pressures from the art communist/industry is another major challenge.

Another issue is all the monetary investment required to create art. As a working artist, currently, I do not really have a studio space. I think studio space is crucial for artists as having a physical space to focus on art allows you to have a space in your mind to concentrate on art. Without a proper space for making and focusing on art, it naturally affects productivity.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
As an artist, my work generally revolves around two main elements: the line and movement. I’ve worked to explore line and movement in different ways, in different series throughout my career so far. In the series Ya Müstakim Ya Münhani (Either Straight or Curved), for example, I explored the potential and complexity of the line in its most basic use, to realize representations of discourses–like the effects of militarism on civil society, human rights, or the immigrant experience–that shape our minds and therefore, realities.

In Ruha yolculuk (A Journey to the Soul), a series of ink wash drawings where human figures sequentially emerge, I played with the movement of water across the paper and the images, mirroring physical, human movement and the immigrant experience, as human features sequentially emerge.

I also developed line-based work within contemporary mediums, like smartphones, for the line and image to be manipulated by the viewer, nesting the oldest imagery–the line–within contemporary mediums for the viewer to investigate on their own terms. These are all variations of my work I do online and movement.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
In 2011, there were a series of earthquakes in Van, Turkey that killed hundreds of people. After the earthquake, I volunteered to go to the region as an art instructor in the camps for displaced peoples–people who were largely rural working class, and now even more so impoverished with the loss of their homes and livelihoods because of the earthquakes. During my time in Van, I saw how art contributes to society and the power of my position within this process as an artist and art educator. I saw the real, positive effects of art on people’s lives.

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