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Portraits by artist Hale Ekinci explore Middle Eastern identity and cultural representation

Dittmar Gallery will host ‘Oya: Borders of History’ Jan. 9 to Feb. 9, 2020
'Untitled Immigrants' is among the works in Hale Ekinci's 'Oya: Borders of History' exhibition at Dittmar Gallery through Feb. 9, 2020
'Untitled Immigrants' is among the works in Hale Ekinci's 'Oya: Borders of History' exhibition at Dittmar Gallery through Feb. 9, 2020

Dittmar Gallery at Northwestern University announces a new exhibition by Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Hale Ekinci. “Oya: Borders of History,” explores transcultural communication and the translation of culture, identity, tradition and gendered labor in the Middle East. Referencing the tradition of oya, the narrow lace trimmings used as edging on headdresses of women and household textiles in the Middle East, “Oya: Borders of History” showcases colorfully painted and embroidered family portraits.

The exhibition will be on view Jan. 9 to Feb. 9, 2020 at the Dittmar Gallery, located inside the Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive on the Evanston Campus.

“Oya: Borders of History” is a product of Ekinci’s strong ties to her Turkish heritage. Both oya and ornamentation hold symbolic meaning that is used as secret communication by their mainly female creators. Similar to the construction of identity, the works come alive through an additive process of embedding symbols and densely layered imagery. The obscured portraits play with the malleability of identity and cultural representation while combining domestic and fine arts materials, aesthetic traditions and symbols of women’s work.

Hale Ekinci received her MFA in interdisciplinary arts and media at Columbia College Chicago and is currently an associate professor of art and design at North Central College. Focusing on personal history, cultural identity, gender politics and craft traditions, her works vary from videos and fiber installations to embroidery paintings embellished with vibrant colors, patterns and autobiographical relics.

Ekinci is currently a Hatch Projects Artist Resident at Chicago Artist Coalition. Her work has been exhibited nationally at EXPO Chicago, Woman Made Gallery, Giertz Gallery, Bridgeport Art Center, VAE, St. Louis Artists’ Guild and Queens College Art Center. Her international video screenings include The Nightingale Cinema, Filmfront, College of DuPage, Musrara Mix Festival (Jerusalem, Israel) Trestle Gallery (New York City), CAN TV (Cable Access Channel 21), Momentum Worldwide (Berlin, Germany) and Center for Contemporary Art (Warsaw, Poland). She has been awarded the “Figure and Fiber Award” by Surface Design Association and has completed residencies at ACRE, Jiwar Barcelona, Momentum Worldwide Berlin and Elsewhere Museum.    

The opening reception with the artist will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Jan. 10, 2020.

Dittmar Gallery admission is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Sundays, except when a new exhibition is being mounted.

For more information, visit the Dittmar Gallery website.

Dittmar Gallery is a member of the Northwestern Arts Circle, which brings together film, humanities, literary arts, music, theatre, dance and visual arts.

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