News From Terre Haute, Indiana


February 14, 2013

RCAA highlights Black History Month with library exhibit

TERRE HAUTE — River City Art Association and the Vigo County Public Library will feature art by Don Turner throughout February in the library at Seventh and Poplar streets.

In addition to the library’s observance of Black History Month, this show pays homage to those who have made efforts to change the course of living for black Americans in the United States today.

Turner was born and raised in Terre Haute. He has shown artistic skills from his days at McLean Junior High and Garfield High schools. After studying at Herron School in Indianapolis, he returned to Terre Haute and assumed leadership roles in the community.

His passion for teaching and education motivated him to make trips to Africa to study, teach and find fuel for his art.

“Turner’s paintings and drawings have been used to comment on the nation’s history,” said Whitney Engeran Jr., a former Indiana State University art department chairperson. “At the celebration of the bicentennial as a freedom loving republic in 1976, Turner reminds us with powerful, juxtaposed images that Americans bought and sold fellow humans as slaves. The main imagery was that of dignified, sensitive black people. The colors sing out in bright, lyrical intensity. The red, green, brown, and black are highly symbolic: They are African colors sending primordial messages about earth, blood [and] fire.

“Turner’s mature works which have been exhibited widely show the expert handling of his media which he learned over many years of studio training at Indiana State University where he earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees in visual art and education.”

The subject of one of Turner’s drawings at the library, “African’s Tree of Life” is a familiar sight in much of Africa. Its twisted branches and fairly short stature make it the perfect climbing toy for children. Entire communities gather at the baobab tree for storytelling, wisdom sharing and celebration.

Sometimes called the “tree of life,” baobab trees store water, a life saver in dry areas where the rains come only twice a year. Every part of the tree is used to help other living creatures. Different parts of the tree provide food for people and animals. People make rope, baskets, paper and cloth out of the bark fibers. Medicines to treat malaria, anemia and asthma also are derived from the baobab tree.

The tree trunk is so large it takes a whole community to surround it. Gathered under the baobab tree, people of all ages can become part of a wonderful tradition.

Turner is a past president and vice president of the River City Art Association in Terre Haute. More of his work and pieces by other RCAA members may be viewed Friday through Feb. 24 in Community Theatre of Terre Haute.

Prospective members are invited to attend RCAA meetings on the second Tuesday of each month in the meeting room of the MCL Cafeteria at The Meadows shopping center. For more information, visit or contact RCAA president Todd Stokes at 812-232-0048.

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