Ole Miss alum Turner Hull to make her return to the “velvet ditch” for Double Decker
Published 6:03 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2022
For many college alumni, returning to their alma mater can feel like returning home.
For University of Mississippi alum Turner Hull, not only is it like coming back to a second home but it’s a chance to celebrate her growth as an accomplished artist.
The Magic City Artist
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Born in the magic city of Birmingham, Alabama, Hull was raised in an artistic family which influenced her creativity later on in her career.
“I have so many family members who are artists and are so creative,” she said. “That’s always been ingrained in me.”
Both of Hull’s grandmothers were artists, but her maternal grandmother was a professional abstract painter who would travel around and sell paintings. A life Hull has gotten to know herself.
“I’ve always looked up to her and her art career,” she said. “It’s just really wild to make it my life as well.”
Hull would later come into possession of her grandmothers’ painting supplies like canvases and watercolor sets when they passed away, inspiring her to paint and future career.
Despite the art being a big influence in her life, Hull attended the University of Mississippi to major in communication sciences and disorders. Her love for the sciences and math was just as influential as painting and art didn’t seem like her future. However, when it came time to figure out the next step after undergraduate, Hull was unable to take it.
“I’d just gotten out of school and I knew I wanted to take a year off before applying to grad school, but I started really stressing,” said Hull. “I felt that it wasn’t the right path for me and I couldn’t figure out why. I absolutely love speech pathology and I absolutely love audiology, but I felt a disconnect between studying it and practicing it.”
While Hull was figuring, she turned to a familiar friend: painting. According to the artist, it was just something to relieve the stress she was feeling about her unsure future. Who would’ve thought that one painting would change that entirely for her?
“While I was painting, I painted a picture of my friends from college who I miss dearly and I posted it to Instagram on a whim,” said Hull. “I was flooded with messages of people who were also like heartsick, missing school and missing their friends, so I started painting their friends and their school. It kind of branched out from there.”
Commissions for paintings kept coming so fast that Hull had no time to think about what was next for her.
“I used to joke around saying, ‘I’ll figure my life out when this stops,’ and it’s been four years of doing it,” Hull said.
The painter started with commissioned art which grew into her own kind art. Through the years, Hull moved from different mediums like watercolor to ink on paper to oils and pastels, and experimented with abstract-style art and collages.
“Now, I’m doing shows, selling art in stores and getting to travel around and I’ve absolutely made this a full time job,” Hull said. “Looking back at my life, I had no idea. At one point, I was about to be a dermatology assistant. I was looking for anything that would feel right and this felt really, really right.”
The Velvet Ditch
The next for years would see a lot of growth and change for Hull and a lot of that growth was largely through Instagram, a platform where you can create a strong visual identity.
The artist was contacted by Matt Bartini, the owner of Mayor Clothing, to create her own line of clothing representing her second home. Mayor Clothing sells short-sleeve, button-down shirts that authentic designs representing iconic towns and traditions made by their local artists or alumni.
“[Bartini] works with a lot of artists who have special ties to their towns, cities or cities,” said Hull. Bartini was creating a line of shirts representing Southeastern Conference colleges and their towns and needed a design for Oxford.
“He found me on Instagram, contacted me about creating a piece of art that would show all the unique, special and inherently Oxford things and put it on a knit polo,” Hull said. In navy blue, Hull designed symbols that many could easily associate with Oxford: The Grove and Walk of Champions, Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, the historic Courthouse Square, Boure’s and the double decker bus.
The painter has named the shirt “The Velvet Ditch” in honor of Oxford’s tendency to birth unique landmarks and people. “The Velvet Ditch” can be found here.
Hull intends to sell her line of Mayor Clothing shirts, created as a love letter to her second home, at her vendor booth for Double Decker. Hull calls finding her way as a professional artist “a blessing.” And it looks like those blessings keep on coming. For artists, the Double Decker Festival is a pretty big deal.
Even when Hull wasn’t a artist by trade, she knew she wanted to be a part of it.
“I was like ‘One day. That’s on my bucket list to do Double Decker,'” Hull said. “I’ve always looked up to the artists who’ve had booths there. My friends would be sitting at Boure’s balcony and I’d take multiple laps around the tents to go shop for art and then come back.”
The festival had been cancelled for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s comeback in 2022 spelled a chance for Hull to cross one thing off her list.
“I have a friend Hanna Teevan who works for Visit Oxford and helped put on the Double Decker festival,” said Hull. “For years she had been saying, ‘Just throw your hat in the ring! Why not?’ So, I applied.” To her excitement, she was chosen to be one of 180 artists showcasing and selling their craft on the Square for the two-day festival.
Until Double Decker, Hull is back home in Birmingham. She has close family who lives in town, but she’s unable to visit as often as she likes.
“I’d go back [to Oxford] in a heartbeat,” she said. “It felt like a home away from home. As much as things have changed since I’ve been in school, the real good stuff stays the same.”
Once a communication disorder major and now an up-and-coming artist, Hull is ready to step back into Oxford ready to show off her craft and meet the artists she’s been connecting with virtually.
“I’m so excited,” she said. “It’s an absolute honor. My first painting being an Ole Miss painting and now I’m showing back up to Double Decker with Ole Miss shirts. Everything has come full circle.”
Look forward to Turner Hull’s appearance at the 25th Annual Double Decker Festival on Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23. Hull’s artist booth will be located at booth #51 in front of My Favorite Shoes and Round Table on the historic Courthouse Square. For more information on Hull, visit her website at www.turnerhullart.com or her Instagram at www.instagram.com/turnerhullart/.