Hale Ekinci MFA ’11

Artist. Designer. Professor.

Artist Hale Ekinci tackles tough political topics with a lighthearted touch.

“I refer to myself as an ‘existential immigrant,’” says Hale Ekinci, who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, and came to the U.S. 12 years ago. “A lot of my work deals with interpreting my homeland.” As an interdisciplinary artist, her work takes many forms, including videos, illustrations, mixed media and writings that often explore language—what’s “lost in translation,” she says.

Ekinci is currently a Hatch Projects Artist Resident at Chicago Artist Coalition. Her work has been exhibited nationally at EXPO Chicago, Woman Made Gallery, Giertz Gallery, Bridgeport Art Center, VAE, St. Louis Artists’ Guild, and Queens College Art Center. She has been awarded the “Figure and Fiber Award” by Surface Design Association and has completed residencies at ACRE, Jiwar Barcelona, Momentum Worldwide Berlin, and Elsewhere Museum.

Whimsically Serious

Ekinci’s newest bodies of work are more explicitly political, referencing the Gezi Park protests of 2013, which sparked a wave of civil unrest across Turkey as citizens demonstrated against violations of their democratic rights. Yet Ekinci’s aesthetic remains playful. Her recent installation Let’s Resist juxtaposed a pile of bricks with a constellation of vibrant crocheted yarn sculptures hanging overhead, symbolizing the protestors themselves. “I like bringing lightheartedness to even the toughest topics,” she says.

Out-of-the-Box Teaching

In addition to exhibiting locally and nationally, Ekinci is an assistant professor of art at North Central College in Naperville, where she teaches interactive media classes like Motion Graphics, Image Processing and Digital Photography. Although some of her classes are quite technical, she strives to create a collaborative learning environment like the one she found at Columbia College Chicago. “The faculty made us feel as if we were peers, and they wanted us to be successful,” she says. The Interdisciplinary Arts department allowed her to take classes in TV and creative writing as well as fine art, allowing experimentation with a variety of disciplines that she says “helped me find who I am, what I like, and my voice.”

As a professor herself now, “I try to teach freedom,” says Ekinci. “I create a friendly, fun environment ... in which each individual can find their niche.” Teaching “makes me feel young,” she says with a laugh. “If I could, I’d be a student my whole life.”