Jud Turner

Jud Turner‘s work addresses modern society and it’s castoffs with a dark but engaging humor. Each of his eleven new works is a fantastical assemblage of found objects, consumer trash, and welded steel. The pieces in this show range in their style, yet collectively deal with subjects that are considered grimly ironic. Most notably is ‘Lotus Eaters’ which I saw earlier in the year on Boing Boing and then again on Who Killed Bambi – I was struck immediately by it gorgeous construction and deep message.

Side view ‘Lotus Eaters’ / 50″ diameter x 16″ depth / mixed media assemblage (wall hanging) / 2011

Jud had this to say about the inspiration behind ‘Lotus Eaters’:

“My latest sculpture, ‘Lotus Eaters’, was inspired by characters from Homer’s Odyssey. The Lotophagi (lotus eaters) feed on a soporific plant which causes them to forget their homelands and live apathetic, uncaring lives. Their diet causes them to be sleepy and languid, as well as disinterested in the world around them.

In my version, the lotus plants being consumed are media, depicted by the warped reflections of the 8 individuals gazing at themselves, further distorted and recorded by their repeated third-eye surveillance lenses.”

Detail of “Lotus Eaters”

Other works in the show include:

“Opiation Vessel” / 25″ x 18″ x 5″ / found object assemblage in wood frame / 2011

“House of Once-ler” / 26″ x 41″ x 6″ / mixed media assemblage in wood frame / 2011

“House of Once-ler” is one of many pieces in the show that addresses the concept of factories. I asked Turner what the motivation behind this subject was and he had this to say:

“The thing with the factories is… they are about the loss of industrial and manufacturing industries in the US, and are made from little plastic model parts. Which are produced in China, in factories that used to be in the US. Love the circularity of materials/meanings in that.”

In the past, Turner has created highly unique pieces such as:

left: “Bio-Cycle” / 30″ x 80″ x 23″ / found object sculpture, welded steel / 2008
right: “The Beginning is the End is the Beginning” / 2′ diameter, wall hanging / welded steel, powder coated finish / 2007

“Eat your veggies (so that one day the veggies may eat you)” / 32″ x 26″ x 12″ (wall hanging) / found object assemblage / 2009

Turner took the time to answer the five question I ask everyone. You can also check out a fantastic interview by Leigh Morrow Calhoun over at Front Row Monthly.

Turner Notes

What artists or creative person has influenced you?
I draw inspiration and excitement from a wide variety of creative people. Early on, my influences were surrealists such as HR Giger, Salvador Dali and Roberto Matta. Later in life, I’m really loving characters such as the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa – the guy invented 70+ different “heteronyms”; he had all these different “personalities” that he intentionally cultivated as separate poets, and they all wrote in distinct and extremely varied styles. This wasn’t a psychological disorder or anything like that – it was an intentional device to spur himself to produce HUGE amounts of poetry and manuscripts. The man died at 47 with only one published book, but left behind 25,000 pages of typed work, mostly created by these 70+ different poets he cultivated within himself. That kind of creative drive inspires me to work as hard as I possibly can in every direction where I see potential.

Not including other artists or art, what inspires you?
The certainty of my and your mortality. This life offers so many possibilities and so little time to explore even a very few of them. I abhor nothing more than wasting time and precious attention, and use that revulsion to try and insure that I use my hours and energy wisely. Making found object sculpture in this way is enormously time-consuming, so I have to select carefully from the many ideas I have.

What is the part of your process you enjoy the most?
I love the way that making found object sculpture transforms how I see the world around me: in this medium, EVERYTHING in the physical world becomes fair game for use in art making, so I can’t shut off this way of looking at the world around me. It gives rise to devious urges to destroy perfectly good items to extract certain components for re-assignment as sculpture ingredients.

….. the least? (not including shipping, everyone hates that)
When my art making tools injure me. To make sculpture out of nearly any re-purposed object, I have to be able to dismantle things that were not meant to be fiddled with, using saws, torches, grinders, hammers – all violent processes using tools that sometimes bite back. I’ve been lucky to avoid any truly serious injuries, but have had stitches and cried my share from things like hot glue-napalm incidents and exploding angle-grinder wheels..

If you were NOT an artist, what would you be doing?
Probably a lot more illegal or immoral activities than I currently partake of. Making sculpture gives me a way to express some tendencies in my personality that could otherwise get me into a lot of trouble: I like to break things, I like to set things on fire, play with outlandish political concepts and philosophies, and intentionally confuse or provoke people. By doing all these things in the privacy of my studio, I manage to be a pretty nice guy most of the time when I’m out there in the world.

Great insights – thanks for your time, Jud!