Carlton Turner is an artist, agriculturalist, researcher and founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, also known as Sipp Culture. Sipp Culture uses food and story to support rural community, cultural, and economic development in his hometown of Utica, MS. Before founding Sipp Culture, Carlton was executive director of Alternate ROOTS, an arts-service organization based in the South promoting the creation of art rooted in community and advocating for social and economic justice for all.
A widely admired thought leader on the power and urgency of creative placemaking, Carlton speaks all over the country and is a current Interdisciplinary Research Fellow with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. He is also a former Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow and a Cultural Policy Fellow at the Creative Placemaking Institute at Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design in the Arts. He also currently serves on the board of First People’s Fund, Imagining America, and Project South.
As for his personal artistic projects, he is currently collaborating on a new performance piece titled “River Souls” with Meena Natarajan and Dipankar Mukherjee, the co-artistic directors of Pangea Theater Company in Minneapolis.
In this interview with Rob Kramer and Pier Carlo Talenti, Carlton describes how rooting his work and art firmly in his hometown has allowed him to investigate and question on a micro and macro level the many systems that determine a community’s overall well-being. He also celebrates how tapping into every community member’s innate creativity can be the first step toward civic transformation.