By SHERIDAN ROY
The Barnes Museum will be hosting a unique gallery of mixed media paintings by Turkish native Necla Balasaygun from April 4 to 18.
Now living in a single unit condo in Spring Lake Village, Balasaygun’s living space is her home, studio and gallery all in one.
“I have loved making art since I was a child,” said Balasaygun. “This is my work—it makes me happy, and I love to create.”
Her passion for history led her to the Barnes Museum four years ago. While living in Bristol, she took a tour, where she met the museum curator Marie Secondo. The historic charm of the old home captivated Balasaygun, and she wanted to be a part of it. She has volunteered there ever since her first visit.
Balasaygun and her husband left their native home in Turkey in 1987, spending time in New Jersey and Georgia before moving to Connecticut. But in 2009, everything changed in an instant. Her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
For the next few years, she put her art aside, and became a caretaker for her husband. After he passed in 2012, she had to find a way to live on her own and create her own happiness.
“Life goes up and down. You don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “After I saw all those things happening to his life, I realized, ‘it’s my life, too.’ I realized, you have to spend the time with each day doing what you want to do, because there’s no time. Now, I’m going to spend time with myself.”
Balasaygun dove headfirst into art after her husband passed away. She also volunteered at the Barnes Museum, and got a part time job at the Waterbury Hospital. When she is not working or volunteering, she spends her days in her studio.
The artist has begun to peak locally due to her unique dimensional work utilizing cantaloupe and pumpkin seeds to add depth to her work.
“I held one seed in my hands, and noticed it looked like something… a leaf,” she said. Using wood as a canvas for stronger durability, Balasaygun paints the background of her paintings—a tree, a flower vase, an orange orchard—then uses glue to place the dried seeds on in layers, painting over each seed as she goes.
All of Balasaygun’s paintings are based on real life experiences and photos she took herself. The artist doesn’t settle on one subject matter. Her work depicts anything from a bowl of fruit, to a woman tending to a farm at Sturbridge Village, to Fourth of July fireworks, to landscapes.
Balasaygun has won numerous awards, including the most recent 2018 annual art show judged by Zufar Bikbow where she won the Dick Blick award for her category. Though most of her skill is self-taught through hours of practice, Balasaygun took three semesters of art courses at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey and took oil painting lessons at the Zola Delburn Studios in Savannah, Georgia.
An evening reception will be held on April 4 at 6 p.m. at the Barnes Museum where guests can view Balasaygun’s work and meet the artist herself. Work will be displayed for two weeks afterwards up until April 18.
The Barnes Museum will also be highlighting the artwork of Leila Upson Barnes—the former Mrs. Bradley Barnes—that are a part of the 136 paintings presently in their collections.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.