PhD Candidate, Gender and Turkish-German Cinema, Indiana University, Bloomington
MFA, Henry Redford School of Fine Arts, Indiana University, Bloomington
BFA, School of Fine Arts, Marmara University, Istanbul
I was born in a small Black Sea village by the Caucasus Mountains in Turkey. My father was a teacher and a social worker. My mother, a beekeeper and a folk poet, wrote regular letters to the president asking for a Family Planning Center to stop unwanted pregnancies and childbirth deaths. I myself first became aware of my gender, (and race as Georgian-Turkish), when I was an undergraduate art student in Istanbul: my sister got arrested for singing a "Kurdish" song, a very frowned upon act back then. She, along with the female members of the band, were treated differently than the male members. The government tried to impose a virginity test on them on the grounds that it was illegal to be unmarried single woman and be a "non-virgin". The government's intention was to wage a psychological warfare and publicly humiliate my sister on the country's traditional moral grounds. Despite torture, my sister refused, and I followed the case with the rest of the country, from the newspapers. Upon visiting my sister in jail, I met other female prisoners with rape and torture stories.
Collaborating with them, my sister turned these stories into powerful, famous new songs from her prison cell. They have now become part of Turkish culture and a few of them even became anthems of resistance. This had a very strong effect on me: I saw that there was empowerment in sisterhood and that art is a very influential form of expression. Realizing how personal was political, I embarked on my journey in Feminist Arts. After attending art schools in Turkey, Italy and in the USA, and studying with Judy Chicago, I decided to expand my work and activism into scholarship and journalistic areas. I have been teaching various courses on Gender in Art, Cinema and Popular Culture, exhibiting extensively with The Kinsey Institute in Indiana, Women Made Gallery in Chicago, Williamsburg Art and Historical Center in New York, Oakland Art Gallery in California, among others, and writing articles for both academic journals and newspapers in Turkey, Europe and in the USA about Gender, Islam, Art, Migrant Cinema, Identity and Media.