Artist, Camille Turner Studios
PhD in Environmental Studies 2022
Master in Environmental Studies 2012
About Camille Turner
Camille Turner is a Canadian artist who explores themes related to race, space, home, and belonging. Her work combines Afrofuturism and historical research. She is a master’s and PhD graduate of York University’s Environmental Studies program, and received the Toronto Biennial’s Artist Prize for her contribution to the 2022 Toronto Biennial of Art exhibit, the second chapter of a two-part biennial – “What Water Knows, the Land Remembers.”
What made you choose your program at York University?
There are several reasons why I attended York University. The Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) was attractive to me because of how well connected our graduates are. I kept running into EUC alumni who spoke very fondly about their experiences. Secondly, I was looking for a supervisor who would support me my work. Professor Honor Ford-Smith was instrumental in my journey at York. She had a huge impact on me and supported my visions. Art-based research is important as no other medium effectively expresses the information and stories I wanted to share. With Ford-Smith’s support, I was able to communicate across disciplinary boundaries, mobilize knowledge, and reach audiences that I couldn’t reach with conventional writing.
Describe a project you are working/worked on that you feel contributed to positive change.
My Biennial immersive multimedia installation Nave (2022), reveals the entanglement of colonial Canada in the transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans through links between the nave of a church and the hold of the ship. For me, the focus was the people that were carried in the hold. I pondered a fitting memorial to honour them and bring them into memory. This piece is a lamentation and a ritual for remembering. In Nave the past, present and future merge. The past haunts the present and must be reckoned with in order to create a liberated future. It’s important to recognize this. I hope this is something viewers take away from this work.
To learn more about Nave, visit the Toronto Biennial of Art website. The three-channel video installation is open to the public and running until June 5.
What are your plans for the future? What do you hope to achieve in the next 1-5 years?
I am the first Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the Daniels Faculty at the University of Toronto. I am continuing my art-based research there and broadening my networks through this post-doc. I will continue to unsilence the Canada’s entangled role in the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans and using my Afronautic methodology, I will investigate slave ships constructed in Newfoundland.
What advice do you have for current and/or future students in the program, the Faculty or at York University?
EUC offers broad areas of study that encompasses many different aspects and ways of being in the world. For future students, I encourage you to think broadly and to continue to be curious.