Pedagogy and Propaganda: New and Recent Work by Brooks Turner • Sept. 21–Nov. 15, 2023
About the Exhibition
Artist, writer, and educator Brooks Turner questions narratives which are fixed in the archives of libraries, museums, and textbooks. His research engages histories of fascism in his home state of Minnesota, often exploring the racial, political, and economic turbulence of these events and their relevance today.
Pedagogy and Propaganda centers on a series of strikes in 1934 which took place in the Minneapolis Warehouse District, then a major distribution center of the Upper Midwest. These fierce clashes pitted General Drivers Local 574 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters against the Minneapolis Police Department and the Citizen’s Alliance, then a dominant employer’s organization which was staunchly anti-union. As we approach the 90th anniversary of the strikes, Turner’s new series of large-scale textiles illustrate tactics of anti-fascist resistance through the historical lens of union organizing and labor history. Strikes, picketing and protests are on the rise today; a 2023 study from Cornell University found that strikes were up by 52 percent in 2022 as workers increasingly speak out about workplace dissatisfaction.
An adjacent gallery brings together a 2020-21 series of silken draperies which blend archival, primary-source content from newspapers with Turner’s original drawings. These works track the rise of fascist organizations and ideologies in the 1930’s, in particular, the pro-Nazi organization the Silver Legion of America (or Silvershirts). Documents Turner unearthed in the Minnesota Historical Society archives record sympathetic relationships between this hate group, prominent Businessman, and Government Officials of the time, as well as the journalists, Jewish Activists, and Union organizers who opposed them.
Video Interview with Brooks Turner
In the Library
A supplemental display is on view on the 4th floor of Carleton’s Laurence McKinley Gould Library. It includes artworks by Brooks Turner, and a collaboration between artists Keith Christensen and Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Bird highlighting the role of Native leaders in the Minneapolis Truckers Strike of 1934. The display also showcases materials from the Carleton College Archives and Special Collections, and ephemera related to Minnesota strike history on loan from the archives of the East Side Freedom Library located in St. Paul, Minnesota.
About the Artist
Brooks Turner is an artist, writer, and educator based in Minneapolis. Through diverse methodologies that include archival research, writing, collage, drawing, and installation, Turner engages anti-fascist histories as a means to deconstruct and challenge the aesthetics of violence enshrined by ongoing US imperialism. His work has been exhibited at the Weisman Art Museum, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and Claremont Graduate University, among others.
Turner is a 2023 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow and has received support from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Federation, and the Minnesota State Inter-Faculty Organization. Turner is the author of A Guide to Charles Ray Sleeping Mime, as well as numerous essays published by HAIR + NAILS, Art Papers, and Mn Artists. Turner received a BA from Amherst College and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is currently Chair of Visual Art at St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists.