Turkish semester hits close to home

Zach Reynolds

Zach ReynoldsReporter

For the first time in SDSU’s history, a semester has been named after a country.

Fatih Benzer, associate professor of visual arts, was on the committee that made the decision to name the fall semester after the Republic of Turkey. They decided to go with Turkey last February, and Benzer has been deeply involved in planning many of the related events.

“We chose Turkey for the first name because there are several faculty members here at SDSU who are from Turkey,” said Karl Schmidt, Director of International Affairs.

Benzer grew up in Izmir, Turkey. He came to the United States 17 years ago when he won a scholarship from the Turkish Council of Higher Education to study abroad. He then earned his master’s degree in painting from California State University and his doctorate in art education from Arizona State University.

One of Benzer’s first experiences upon arriving in the United States was walking through Target.

“It made me realize the influence of pop culture here,” Benzer said about seeing products lined up one after the other. “I felt like I was walking through one of Andy Warhol’s paintings.”

What attracted Benzer to teach at SDSU was the small size of Brookings, as he grew up and went to school in big cities.

“SDSU offers smaller classes which I like because it allows me more time and the ability to pay more attention to my students,” Benzer said. “This is especially important in visual arts.”

He also likes it at SDSU because he has more time to do his scholarly work, which includes art and research. He ties his research into his teaching.

To begin the Turkey semester, a sold-out community kickoff was held at Cottonwood Bistro on Sept. 9. It included Turkish cuisine, art, photos and live music.

There are four events Benzer will be directly connected with for the semester.

On Oct. 5 there will be a film screening of Crossing the Bridge, from which viewers will learn about the evolution of music in Turkey. Another film, Ice Cream, I Scream will screen on Nov. 30. It is about an ice cream peddler competing with large international ice cream companies. Both films will show at 7 p.m. in The Northern Plains Biostress Laboratory 103, introduced by Benzer.

Benzer will also be doing two lectures with topics about Turkey. On Oct. 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Campanile Room about Turkey’s art and architecture.

On Nov. 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Crest Room Benzer will have a discussion about growing up in Turkey from his own personal perspective. Topics he will discuss include culture, custom and human relationships.

Benzer does two styles of painting: iconographic and figurative. The purpose of his iconographic art is to create a bridge between East and West Civilization.

“The purpose of art in my life is very simple,” Benzer said. “It helps me understand the meaning of life… It is a very strong visual form for me.”

#1.1655444:1796155201.jpg:SDSU has started naming each semester and this fall was named after the Republic of Turkey.:SDSU has started naming each semester and this fall was named after the Republic of Turkey. Fatih Benzer, an art professor, represents the new semester?s name with his Turkish heritage.:Collegian Photo by Brittany Canales