Jannell Turner is interested in sublime encounters and the beauty of the botanical world. Her paintings provide an entry point into abstract painting and metaphysical thinking. By leveraging recent scientific understanding of plants—heliotropic bending and electromagnetic sensing—Turner is able to imagine how plants “see” in ways that humans cannot. The result is a shared experience of wonder and reverence towards life.
Her imagery alludes to both encounters in nature and specific plants. Integrating color temperature, geometry, and emergent patterns on the canvas, she mimics botanical sensory capabilities such as bending toward light and detecting colors by the length of their electromagnetic waves. Her work begins with a walk in the forest where she sketches a cinematic encounter. In her studio, she makes a series of drawings and small paintings based on that experience. From there, she produces large canvases in oil paint.
Influenced by contemporary scientists and scholars such as David Chamovitz (What a Plant Knows), Michael Marder (The Philosophy of Vegetal Life), Hope Jahren (Lab Girl), Peter Wohlleben (The Hidden Life of Trees), she uses painting as a platform for ideas. Turner draws additional inspiration from writings by Joseph Campbell, Rachel Carson, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder and John Muir. She strikes a decidedly hopeful chord regarding the Anthropocene, the current epoch in which human activity has spurned mass extinctions of plant and animal species, pollution and other lasting impacts. Turner asserts that wonderment may serve as a guide for survival during this precarious time.
Turner lives and works in Brooklyn. She earned an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017. Recently, she had her first solo show in Manhattan presented by ChaShama. In 2014, she was selected by Fabergé for a sculptural exhibition which included Pat Steir, April Gornik, Jennifer Bartlett, Julian Schnabel and Jeff Koons. Her paintings have been exhibited in New York, Chicago, Memphis, and California.