The artist was in the room the moment she took her last breath. There was only stillness now – a lifeless form, devoid of being.
Months later, grief stricken artist Richard Turner, still mourning the loss of his wife of 49 years, entered his studio intent on organizing it. Everything reminded him of his wife, Sylvia, with photos of her dancing – one in a fancy dress, another in a leopard print, and again in the dresses she wore to her daughter’s’ weddings. She was everywhere. Present, yet absent.
“When you see empty pieces of clothing you know there are supposed to be bodies filling that clothing. They are not just hanging there for nothing, waiting there to be put on,” a somber Turner said.
After discovering an art piece he had done a decade prior, a black and white image with a thick, black border printed onto fabric, Turner chose his wife’s clothing as the basis of his art expression. Sylvia was remembered as a stylish dresser, and Turner wanted to share her memorable style with others.
Phillip Marquez, department chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department and gallery director, welcomed the memorial piece, because he saw Sylvia as somewhat of a mentor and someone who helped form parts of the Santa Ana College campus.
Richard returned to the gallery where he made one of his first debuts as a young artist to make his next installation.
“If you sanded down any one of these walls, you would get to a point where you would be able to see the paint I used in my previous installations … you’d see this dark red or this dark green that I used for parts of the wall here,” Turner said.
The art installation that premiered Sept. 13 features 15 silk printed images that were hand chosen by their twin daughters, six of Sylvia’s closet friends and the artist himself to exemplify her fashion taste.
“You really need to go in there alone this place will give you the chills,” said student employee for the Fine and Performing Arts Division, Kary Robelledo.
The artist cast these life-size prints onto a gray painted backdrop and paired these images with fans, which were anchored to the ceiling so they could dance and move as if Sylvia’s body still filled these articles of clothing.
“The fact that the clothes on the fabric is moving, kind of relates to that fact that that is what she did for a living. She choreographed, she danced and so these pieces are kind of dancing. They’ve got a bit of life to them that they wouldn’t have if they were just hanging there without moving,” Turner said.