A native of Turkey, alumnus Baris Gokturk describes his experience at Parsons as “cosmopolitan and international. I not only met people from all over the world but also worked with them in my classes.” Gokturk explored a number of areas of design before deciding that fine arts was his true passion. He says, “The faculty was so supportive when I switched from Illustration to Integrated Design Curriculum and then to Fine Arts. By allowing me to try different fields, they helped me realize that what I really want to do is paint.”
Today, painting is a major part of what Gokturk does. For his junior-year internship, a standard part of the Fine Arts program, Gokturk worked first with sculptor Jeanne Silverthorne and then with painter Fabian Marcaccio, with whom he is working today. Gokturk is also earning his MFA in Painting and shows work in galleries in New York and Turkey. “I am working on a series of paintings about the intangibility of information versus knowledge. In my paintings, I work with sets of words whose meaning is becoming more and more ambiguous because of overuse and deliberate political misuse.” Gokturk uses images, found mainly through Google, to create collages representing “reconsidered meanings” of the words. “I aim for a chewed-up, worn-off pictorial zone” in which “the meaning [is] stripped off the word, the image [is] stripped of meaning, painting [is] stripped of painting, and so on. This way, every aspect of the work becomes paradoxical yet its raison d’être becomes meaningful.”
Gokturk also uses art for instruction at institutions like the Guggenheim Museum and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine New York Education Project. Since 2006, he has served as New York editor for rh + sanart magazine, an Istanbul-based bilingual international art publication. Both of these engagements offer Gokturk opportunities to further refine his explorations of image, meaning, and form—a critical part of his learning and a foundation of a Parsons fine arts education.