“We Are PULSE”: Rebecca Turner, artist and advocate

Rebecca Turner is an Atlanta, Georgia based artist, jeweler, and small business owner specializing in handcrafted metal and stone jewelry. In light of the recent violence against the LGBTQ+ community, Turner has launched a line of custom jewelry in solidarity with the victims and families of those effected by the Pulse tragedy. Pulse has served as the catalyst for a global shift in the voices of marginalized communities that have long been smothered by violence, oppression, and fear. Turner, and artists like her, have recognized this emerging voice as a powerful tool for social change. Intersectional Art Advocacy and Awareness is proud to offer a platform for this voice, and welcomes Rebecca Turner as an ally to our mission for acceptance, awareness, and advocacy in her courageous step into a sphere of activism. She reached out to founding IAAA member and long time friend, Kayla Byrn, to raise awareness for her fundraising efforts and has graciously offered us insight into her role as an art activist and small business owner.

Rebecca Turner: Artist, Business Owner, Ally

KB: Prior to the Orlando incident, what was your involvement with the LGBTQ+ community?

RT: My husband and I are friends with many people who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, but I really wish I had been more actively involved before the shooting occurred. We have donated/shopped at Lost and Found Thrift Store in Atlanta; which is Atlanta’s only nonprofit organization that takes homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth off the street and into more permanent housing, my husband was a member of the BGLSA (Bi, gay, lesbian, straight alliance) at the University of South Carolina. Looking forward, we’re planning to help out at Lost and Found Youth/donate what we can and hopefully will be going to the Pride Parade coming up. We have so many near and dear friends that are LGBTQ and are really looking to lend our support.

KB: How has this tragedy impacted your community, and how has it prompted you to take a proactive role in advocacy as an artist?

RT:  It has brought up a lot of urgent questions to me and to friends that I didn’t know were questions in other peoples minds around America. I can’t believe there are still people who would think someone’s life doesn’t matter because of their sexuality. We’re now talking more intensely about how to address that thought process. How do you convince someone that other humans lives matter as much as their own when that person is so blind with hatred that they lack empathy? How do you show people that love is the way to go without getting into a heated argument or without words at all? How do you talk to the general public- people of all backgrounds, all incomes, all situations, and explain intellectually why their life is worth just as much as the person next to them? It has also made me realize that life is bigger than me and my small business. Yes, getting food on your table and paying the bills is important, but when you start getting a following its also important to bring awareness to the things that are wrong in the world. Because you can, because you have that reach. I have always been a lover of fashion and art and that shows in my work but I think having a voice about upheavals in society today and making work about that is something that’s been missing for me. I have been talking about how my small business decreases the underpaid abused labor overseas (that makes that $10 necklace from Forever 21) and how I hope every piece I make helps change the thought process of consumerism in the U.S…but that message comes out when I talk to people/sell to people and get the word out through my small business advertising. When it comes to the work itself, I’d like to start making some reminder pieces. I’d like to make more pieces focused on housing a reminder of this moment in history when the LGBTQ community is being gunned down and mistreated consistently. Because in 150 years that metal will still exist and hopefully it will be passed down to your grand children’s grand children and it will show how far we’ve come as human beings. Because in 150 years we cannot still be struggling with so much hate.

KB: Do you have a goal in sight for your proceeds to the victims and families of the event? Is there a specific GoFundMe or organization you are donating the proceeds to?

RT: The “Pulse” chains fundraiser I’m doing serves as a reminder for the people wearing them of what happened. In an age where everything is digital, it’s more effective in my mind to have tangibles to remind us about tragedies. The “Gofundme” page for the victims families in Orlando will receive 50% of every $30 chain sale made. If they reach their goal before my small fundraiser is over (and the page comes down), I’ll be choosing an LGBTQ shelter in Orlando to donate to.

KB: Are you interested in further arts advocacy work in the future?

RT: I would love to do more arts advocacy work in the future. Art is how a lot of upheavals in this world are talked about. It’s how people in history have brought attention to tragedies, distracted the world from wars, collided truths from many different topics (math/science/history) in one place, marked an event in history books and brought people together in a relaxed environment that can’t be replicated in any other environment. I already support an effort to move toward a less scary world where people aren’t murdered for their sexuality. I would love to make art about that and strike up conversations about things that haven’t ever crossed people’s minds before.


You can support Rebecca Turner’s fundraising efforts and support the Pulse victims and their families by visiting her Facebook page or website to order a custom Pulse chain and tag. Half of all proceeds will be donated directly to the Pulse GoFundMe.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rebeccaholtjewelry/

Website: http://rebeccaholt.co/


Full Disclosure: A Synopsis

Intersectional Arts Advocacy & Awareness debuted their groundbreaking show, Full Disclosure, with original works of art by the founders of the organization – Kayla Byrn, Shelby Elmore, Nick Masiello, and Sarah Neat-Sullivan. The show opening was bustling, and the art will be on display until Sunday night, June 26th, at Space 39 Gallery. The closing and art talk will be held Friday June 24th, at 6 pm.

Works addressed the artists’ personal descriptions of their mental illnesses or disorders, and were unabashedly blunt in their content. In the artists’ statements were details on the processes of creating the show, as well as their diagnoses. The artwork itself was not only intended to be humbling in their honesty, but to break the stigma still held toward various mental illnesses and disorders. Works seemed somewhat macabre to many viewers, however, each piece was as if the artist was extending a key towards each viewer individually as an effort to provide a glimpse behind a previously locked door to the artists’ daily lives.

Works ranged from dark, sultry colors to bright yet inviting chaos, from disturbingly dismal to manic frenzy. Albeit drastically different in style and tone, each piece formed a cohesive message of “I am here, I am part of the community, please listen!” In a fervent attempt to create a dialogue between the unaware and the narrator. Subjects for each individual piece danced between the story of life with depression, mania, anxiety, sensory overload, rage, body dysmorphia, dissociation, self-harm, tremors, and all of the details that fall through the cracks.

With Full Disclosure being an unprecedented event, the artists’ hope is to encourage other artists to speak up about their own stigmatized conditions, allowing mental health to become a subject that will no longer be considered taboo to speak about. Another purpose is to encourage other artists by leading with their own examples of what capabilities Awareness can bring to the community, and the power of Advocacy.

Future shows may address other Intersectional matters as themes, such as the persecution of the LGBT+ community, the harm of racism, the importance of Feminist movements, defeating ableism, etc. For this show, the theme for the premiere show was inspired by the support group and safe space for Neurodivergent artists, DiverseCity, created by Sarah Neat-Sullivan in early 2016. From this haven, Kayla Byrn was motivated to create Intersectional Arts Advocacy & Awareness (IAAA) as an organization for outreach to the community as a whole.13332752_1719902951624783_3307017274394326068_n