Festival of Ridvan

  • Ridvan celebrates Baha’u’llah’s time in 1863 in the garden of Ridvan in Baghdad when He publicly declared His station as a Manifestation of God. The Ridvan Festival is 12 days long and is also the time of year when Baha’is elect their governing bodies.
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The Art of Terri Turner

May 30, 2023, in Images > Visual Arts, by

Terri Turner is a mixed media artist whose work stems from a deep, unwavering commitment to the oneness of humanity.

In this images post, we share a small sampling of her work as well as her words about her art, her artistic process, and how art can change the world.

The Shrine of the Bab superimposed flower

B/W Jarrah Forest WA

Sewn round leaves Institute circles

Prison bars superimposed bush misty dawn

Shrine of Baha'u'llah with superimposed pine grove where family would gather

Superimposed Aust bush images and collage

B/W graphic drawing from to the collaborators old Ruhi Book 2

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Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

The ancestors of both my parents’ sides have been on the move ever since leaving Africa; like a lot of the early people who moved to America and Australia whose families had been on the move due to prejudices over religion, economic, and or politics for generations.

If there is peace and unity within a community people have no need to leave their loved ones, their birth country, or their way of life.

Seeking peace and unity has driven my entire life and it was not until I found Baha’u’llah’s Writings in 1992 that I finally found that inner peace.

Could you please tell us about your art and photography? What inspires you to crate? And why is creativity and artistic expression important to you and the world?

Self-portrait of Terri Turner

To answer these next set of questions I can not pull them apart. 

These 3 questions are united and intertwined and speak of my driving force over my entire life.

All art creation has at its foundation “storytelling”.  Every artist regardless of medium or form is telling a story.

From the age of 5 drawing and visual art expression consumed my inner and outer life.

I remember: growing up in the bush surrounded by huge native forests filled with lush under-stories and in spring stunning, native orchards; the fresh running streams and the Canning River which we could still swim in (and drink from) each summer and go on adventures up the hill sides of the Darling Scarp.

It was the natural environment full of beauty, structures, forms, colours, hues that filled my very being with joy and delight but it was married to my deep sadness at its destruction.

With every passing day these beauty, wonderment, light filled sacred spaces were being pulled down for human needs and wants with no interest or understanding of what they were destroying.

In my youthful mind all I had to do was let them know what was beautiful through my art and they would stop destroying my beloved bush. Wrong.

At 16 years of age I entered training as a graphic artist. This profession allowed me to slowly develop another creative profession that later became known as community art.

My community art actions developed into Children ArtEco Environmental programs with local councils in park settings close to remnant native vegetation.

It was around this time I was asked to write and present a paper at an emerging Environmental Early Childhood Organisation seminar.

After writing this paper it became very clear to me that the children did not know how to love themselves, so how were they ever going to love the bush and the surrounding environments and each other?

It was a few years after this when I found the Faith that I chose to spend the next 25 years attempting to teach children spiritual education as surely this would help the children to love themselves and love the environment and each other. Wrong again.

After 25 years of developing spiritual curriculum and serving across every imaginable community of children both inside the Baha’i community and in the wider community as a community artist, I felt I was not seeing any changes at all.

Then just as my dear late husband was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. A few months later I found myself in a job working as a mentor of primary school aged children in a couple of state schools in low socioeconomic communities.

The mentoring program was fully designed by me working directly with the children in a one-on-one space usually in the school’s playground, or sport focused spaces, or library, reading books or playing games of the child’s choice. Yes, I had to become proficient in chess, UNO, soccer, basketball, and football. It was in these spaces I learned how to empower the children and they taught me what they needed.

Social and emotional development cannot be applied without the third leg of the tripod:  yes, spirituality.

I was seeing on a daily basis profound social, emotional and spiritual changes in these children but how on earth was I going to let the adults know what the children had taught me?

Use my artistic skills? Who could I ask?  Who could I consult with? Who could I collaborate with?

I wrote as much of my findings out and sent it off to a very dear Auxiliary Board Member and Councillor who both told me to find how my insights and what I had learned from the children could fit into the Institute program.

Over the following few years, to my surprise the more I tutored and trained in the higher grades of the Ruhi books and children class materials, the more I found the social, emotional and spiritual educational pedagogy of all souls that entered into its circles regardless of age or backgrounds.

To understand what drives my creative expression you have to know what is the driving forces within me and what is the underlying story I am attempting to express.

I am trained in many art forms and enjoy graphic illustration and marketing and fine art painting and poetry and found objects and paper making and photography and many other forms of artistic expression but my driving force is to find how to encourage children to love themselves so they will love the environment and all forms of creation and now the whole of humanity.

All of my art which I have created over the past 16 years can be found in my online Flickr visual diary. When you are looking at the visuals also check below at what I have written or what quotes I have chosen to go with each image.

Unity of self is what I have found studying the Ruhi materials over the past 26 years–we are all being called to assist to find ways to let humanity know we are one family. Nothing in our selves or our environment is safe until this oneness is achieved and actioned on as within as without.

We are all the body of the bird and our wings are all of the opposing forces that surround us and we are here to figure out how to balance these “mutual reactions”.

Note the word WE.

That’s now my greatest creative challenge: the need to find other artists to collaborate with who have a similar focus.

And add to that finding creative ways to get souls within the Ruhi Institute to express themselves through creative expression balancing their two wings of intellect and creative action.

The past 25 years of the Ruhi Institute has been needed to build our higher selves “I”.

These next 25 years is about all these strong, “I” serving together to building strong “WE”.

And anyone who has studied the history of art will see that every explosion of a new art revolution comes when the collaboration of a united group of artists with one vision, one plan create.

Two quotes that fuel my endless creative energy are:

“Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.” – Baha’u’llah

“We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.” – Shoghi Effendi

Let Shoghi Effendi’s last two words in this quote leave you pondering and meditating on how each of us is creatively expressing and socialising our own unique thoughts into the physical realm “…of these mutual reactions.”

Thank you, Terri, for taking the time to share this with us!

You can find Terri’s art on her flickr account.

Posted by

Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.
Sonjel Vreeland

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