"Art-making does not happen as an isolated private act. It does not exist in an isolated place."

Slow down. Listen. Look. Think. Think again. The work of Tulu Bayar, multimedia artist and associate professor of art, is not meant to be grasped fully in a quick glance. Rather, she hopes her audience will dive beneath the surface, taking the time to work through each piece.

"My goal is to offer my audience chances to undertake a little bit of further search for meaning beyond first impressions," she says. "In order to appreciate a really successful work of art, you need to spend just a little bit more time in front of it. If you are just looking at and walking by the work, then you forget it."

Bayar says that as she has matured as an artist the idea of art as part of the community has become more important to her work. "Art-making does not happen as an isolated private act. It does not exist in an isolated place," she says. "I truly embrace the idea that art exists as a space where things are taken apart, tried out, reassembled and become part of the cultural landscape. I really find myself not creating for the sake of art, or for a small audience in the art world, but more engaging with people, collaborating with people and doing it for people."

Bayar's most current portfolio focuses on the cultural debates surrounding women's place in Islamic culture and society. She was born and raised in Turkey, and draws on her personal experience as well as interviews with Islamic women from diverse cultures.  Bayar tries to open a dialogue, rather than telling her audience what to think. "As an artist I don't come up with one answer to a question. Indeed I don't answer questions," she says. "I just point out that there are so many different perspectives."

Bayar is a photographer, but her work is driven by ideas, not by the medium. She creates installations using a variety of eclectic media, incorporating whatever material is right for the particular work. "To me art is not only a visual experience but also a multi-sensory one, because in the real world we hear sounds, we smell, touch and see things," she says. "So more and more I'm embracing diverse media and materials that lend themselves to a more, I think, multi-sensory experience for the audience."

Her 2009 installation work, "Convergence," for example, offers 800 translucent spheres illuminated against a blue background by a randomly moving spotlight seem to float by the audience. Men and women whisper in overlapping voices, confessing the everyday secrets we all share but rarely express. The hypnotic sensual experience conveys a universal connection. "Regardless of our background, regardless of our cultural identity and our religious background, it all comes to one thing: we are all human beings and we all have the same type of concerns," she says, encouraging her students as well as her audience to think about that, and think again.

Posted Sept. 9, 2009

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