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Marie Porterfield Barry, TURKEY, 2011-2012

Fulbright Year: 2011-2012
Country: Turkey
Proposal Type: Creative
Field of Study: Design
Proposal Title: Collaborative Çini
UGA Graduate Department: Painting and Drawing
Graduation Date: May 2011, Master of Fine Arts
Hometown: Jonesville, VA

Traditional Turkish ceramics, known as cini, will form the basis of Marie Porterfield Barry’s Fulbright year as she spends her time studying the art form and overseeing a public art installation.

“Of particular interest to me are the çini tiles, which form monumental murals that ornament palaces, mosques and other architectural structures throughout Turkey dating back to the Ottoman Empire,” she says. “Traditionally, these intricately detailed tiles — purely abstract or with vines and flowers, painted on creamy white surfaces in rich blue and green tones with crimson red highlights and black outlines — are crafted in workshops where individuals collaborate to make immense works of art.

“For the first months of my studies, I will be working primarily in Kütahya, Turkey, which has been a center for çini production since the 14th century and has successfully maintained that tradition. During these first five months, I plan to work with master artists and focus extensively on the technical aspects of çini production, with particular attention paid to the method of painting and glazing and to the construction of multiple tile structures, while continuing to study the history and symbolism of the art form.”

Marie seeks to meld the old with the new during the second part of her year abroad, when she’ll focus on the public art presentation in nearby Eskişehir, which is expected to make a lasting impression.

“I plan to work with artists and students, traveling to a Anadolu University in neighboring city Eskişehir, to make a collaborative installation using the traditional method of çini fused with contemporary concerns,” says Marie, who earned her bachelor’s in fine arts with a concentration on painting from East Tennessee State and spent two years as a graduate research assistant for Ideas for Creative Exploration (ICE), an interdisciplinary initiative for advanced research in the arts at UGA.

“I will facilitate the conception, construction and final installation of a large-scale work of art to be permanently installed in a public location, inspired by the monumental çini tile murals that are viewable throughout Turkey. The tile mural, produced in collaboration with professors, artists and students in Kütahya and Eskişehir, will address the concept of the individual as part of the larger collective… Through this project, I will examine the creative individual as part of cooperative collective in the construction of a cross-cultural, collaborative work of art that is both personal and universal. The collaborative tile mural will be permanently installed in a public location in Turkey.”

Once the installation is completed, Marie says she’ll utilize technology to give art lovers all over the world a chance for an up-close-and-personal glimpse.

“I will recreate the project on the internet so viewers may explore the project from the United States, other parts of Turkey, or elsewhere,” she says. “Due to the web site, viewers will be able to access the project internationally, to share in my experience as a Fulbright researcher and to learn more about Turkey, çini, and the ideas behind the works of art created by the collaborators.

“I also plan to make a separate body of work exploring çini, which I will hopefully exhibit in both Turkey and the United States, documenting the cultural exchange and the Fulbright experience.”

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