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Museum of Glass presents Ray Turner: Population, exhibition of portraits on glass
Ray Turner (American, born 1958), Woman on Dark Green, Portraits from MOG Series, 2012. Oil on glass; 12 x 12 inches each. Courtesy of the artist.

TACOMA, WASH.- Museum of Glass presents Ray Turner: Population, an exhibition of portraits on glass that portray a broad cross-section of American people, including members of the Tacoma community. The exhibition opened at Museum of Glass on Saturday, November 3, 2012.

The exhibition comprises approximately 200 paintings rendered in lush layers applied to glass. The initial subjects of these portraits were Turner’s family, friends and acquaintances—the network of people who populate his life—along with members of the communities that have hosted the show. At every venue, Turner incorporates new portraits of ordinary, interesting and, often times, marginalized people who embody some aspect of the locale into the body of work that increasingly reflects our nation’s diveristy. For Tacoma, Turner has included portraits of the Museum’s glassblowers, youth from the Hilltop Artists in Residence Program and Jason Lee Middle School, members of the Puyallup Tribe, local artists and some of his alumni from Stadium High School.

“I began painting portraits for Population in 2007,” comments Turner. “I have now painted hundreds of people, searching the souls, finding the love, the joy, and pain of our common bonds as humans. I feel compelled to paint hundreds, even thousands more.”

In his portraits, Turner invites viewers to contemplate notions of both collective and individual identity. He paints with oils directly on glass using heavy brushstrokes that create a richly-textured representation of his subjects. Each 12 x 12-inch portrait is displayed atop an individual square of color different from, yet related to, the adjacent works. The transparency of the glass creates a surface which reflects the viewer and the environment, while the blocks of color add to the character of the work. Each portrait is a masterpiece in its own right, yet collectively the portraits deftly capture the shared beauty of human imperfection.

Included in Population is a series Turner has dubbed Good Man Bad Man that resulted from his young son’s interest in “good guys and bad guys.” This character encapsulates the polarities of life and death and the grey zone in between where these opposing forces meet. “For me the face holds that conflict residing in each of us,” states Turner. “The Good Man Bad Man pieces exaggerate both sides of our human experience…The one side wants you to thrive, prosper, live an exceptional life, be generous, kind to all, love, and live in piece. The other one wants you dead.”

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