Turquoise Dream


Turquoise Dream Cintemani

Art Exhibition


by Gizem Saka

November 1, 2013 - January 15, 2014 (extended)
Howard Thurman Center at Boston University
775 Commonwealth Avenue, Lower Level

Reception with the Artist: November 1, 2013, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Gallery Hours: M-T 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., F 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Closed on Weekends and Thanksgiving


Turquoise Dream


From the Artist

“I grew up in Istanbul, which I believe is the number one reason I became an artist. In Istanbul, you don’t go to a museum to see arts and culture; it’s around you. In our small town called Kuzguncuk, painters and sculptors had studios. I remember going to school on the weekends, and being instructed by a painter. For them, it was about community. For us kids, it was fun. Later when I discovered the identities of the painters who instructed us, and realized that they were indeed quite accomplished artists, it became about appreciation. The number two reason would be me being the daughter of an architect.

I started painting at 21. Before then, I did drawing. For some reason I thought drawing came first. Now I realize that it doesn’t have to be the case. I also did ceramics and small sculptures, which I think gave me some idea about form.

My latest collection is inspired by Ottoman ceramics and tiles. The artistry started in the region called Iznik (was originally adopted from the East), and were then transformed to the Ottoman court. Since calligraphy was important, there was work on paper. What is great about Ottoman art is that, as the researcher Walter Denny claims, there was no “fine art” mentality.  Decorative arts were important, as well as calligraphy, miniature painting, or pottery. Art and artisanship were important- I see this as being distorted in the West when Ottoman art is in question. In fact, the head designer in the Ottoman court, called Nakkasbasi, used to get paid a lot of money by the Sultan.

For this exhibit, I rely on the color scheme of original ceramic painting as well. The Iznik palette started with cobalt blue and then grew to incorporate first a turquoise, then red, and in the second half of the 16th century, a wonderful mixture of emerald green, which improved the turquoise. I strive to match that color in my palette, although it is difficult. I use about ten different turquoises and try to mix them in different combinations.  I also use a thin coat of varnish, which I never did before in painting. The original tiles were glazed before they were kilned, so that in the bowls and plates there is this glossy and transparent coating. I wanted to reflect that in my canvasses.” – Gizem Saka


About Gizem Saka

Gizem SakaBorn in Istanbul, Gizem Saka studied drawing and sculptural form in the historic city. In 1999, she moved to the U.S to attend graduate school in economics at Cornell University, where she also continued painting at the Department of Art & Architecture. Having combined her two interests in painting and economics, she developed the course “Economics and Art” at Wellesley College and taught it at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University (2014). Since 2005, her work has been shown in over 15 national and international venues. She is the recipient of three art-related grants and a reviewer for the Journal of Cultural Economics.


Co-presented with the Howard Thurman Multicultural Center at Boston University