“The education I'm receiving is important because my painting is informed only by the things I know. If I don't know anything, then I'm not painting.”
Major: Studio Art, Graduated May 2019
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Graduate school: Columbia University
Khari Turner has been the man in the Gov suit the past few years.
As the Austin Peay Governor, he has danced on the sidelines of basketball and football games, and he claims his dancing might very well have been the key to the basketball team’s 2016 success.
“Being the mascot was the craziest thing because it allowed me to be whoever I wanted to be while also being the person who represented the school,” Turner said. “Being the mascot was amazing.”
But being Austin Peay’s mascot will not be Turner’s biggest contribution to the University. The recent graduate’s future is bright, and it’s his artwork, not his mascot work, that will shine on Austin Peay State University.
Turner – along with Austin Peay’s Ashanté Kindle – was one of only 38 students nationwide selected to attend the 2019 Chautauqua Institution School of Art in western New York. And in the fall of 2019, Turner will start work on his Master of Fine Art degree at Columbia University in New York City.
Turner attributes much of his success to Austin Peay.
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"I learned when I came to Austin Peay that I have to continue to keep teaching myself to keep reinventing what I’m doing," the Milwaukee native said. "I knew I had to keep going. Once I got here, I knew I wasn’t stopping."
“The education I’m receiving is important because my painting is informed only by the things I know. If I don't know anything, then I'm not painting,” he said about APSU, Chautauqua and Columbia.
His ultimate goal is to start conversations that inspire how people view others in the world.
“I want to inspire, but not just inspire, I want to start a conversation, conversations that involve self-improvement for people as well as an inner monologue with how they view other people in the world,” Turner said. “Conversations about race. Conversations about systems. Conversations about how we treat each other.
“I think moving people is the hardest thing to do,” Turner added. “Once you can figure that out, that’s when you really can make change.”
To see Turner’s work, visit www.kharirahim.com.
As a past University mascot and art student, Khari attributes a large portion of his success to his Austin Peay experience.