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Kate Turner – When I Was Knee High

When I Was Knee High exhibition poster

Kate Turner – When I Was Knee High

March 5–13

The Anderson is pleased to present When I Was Knee High from VCUarts Sculpture + Extended Media Studies alumni Kate Turner (MFA 2020).

Artist Statement

“Knee high past the Fourth of July” is an old adage farmers used to measure the growth of their crop. If the corn was at knees length by Independence Day then you were on track. 

I remember one Fourth of July our neighbors in the suburbs put on an incredibly dazzling and illegal display of fireworks. We all watched from our squares of green that stretched for blocks. As I was watching the fireworks ash came down and fell into my eye. It burned and scared me so much I swore that day that I would hate fireworks for the rest of my life. 

With all the technological and agricultural advances the saying does not apply to the crop anymore. Corn now should be way past the knee by Independence Day. 

It was only when I left the Midwest, and the golden blanket of protection the corn provides us there, that I was able to feel what Ohio had imprinted on me. Like an animal with its natural abilities to navigate home, I felt its pull to come back. After all I had just fallen in love with a man under some fireworks, and maybe that wasn’t all bad. 

I am cultivating my own corn fields. For the ones that beckon me also call me a n***er and have hate in their core. I am measuring my own growth. Because the people there still use old sayings from measurements and I need something bigger than that to measure all that I got. I am protecting my stories so that when they are fertile and ready I can give them away to feed and comfort like a good midwestern woman should. And you all are welcome to the feast. Well, at least those who like corn.


West Chester is a suburb outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. A township made up of around 62,000 people. Voted “best place to live” by Money Magazine. There are many towns like it scattered throughout the midwest. Bubbles. That’s where Kate grew up. Her practice explores what it was like forging an identity being the product of a transracial adoption. Using her experiences as a sex worker, division I collegiate athlete, and mother Kate Turner examines contemporary issues around identity, race, and gender through multimedia installation, video, and performances. Kate aims to create work that expands the narratives of queer black women making our stories more visible and accessible. Kate Turner received her BFA from Bowling Green State University in 2015 and her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2020. She is currently a resident at the Galveston Artist Residency.