Eugene, OR based sculptor Jud Turner opens a statement explaining his art with the phrase “Quantum physics tells us that apparently solid objects are comprised of vast empty spaces…” For some, this may be a reason to navigate away from the website in a panic. For me, it brought back memories of mind-scrambling science/math hybrid problems, where letters meant numbers and my high school GPA took a violent beating. But Turner’s work isn’t about being afraid. It is about bringing together the past and the future; about viewing the whole as the work of many, many individuals. And in the end, that may look like a skeleton on a bicycle.
“Bicycles have been around for nearly 200 years, but were largely replaced by automobiles,” Turner explains. “I think bicycles will again be the dominant mode of transportation in the near future.”
Opening a Jud Turner gallery means suddenly finding yourself surrounded by trilobites and wart hogs fashioned mainly out of welded steel and found materials, giving the impression that they spawned from an imagination wretched with terror. But it isn’t a nagging childhood trauma or the voice of the weather lady in his head that are behind the creation of such conceptually mystifying pieces.
“Between seeming contradictions lie greater truths,” Turner says, stating his artistic philosophy in a nutshell. There’s no denying an underlying motif in his work illustrates a strong belief in the cyclical nature of time. “Our most complex computers can’t compare to the brain of even the smallest living creature.”
This is a point brought to life by one of his functioning sculptures, a coffee table with trilobites scrambling across it.
“The symmetry and repetition of a trilobite is both calming and suggestive to me. They also make a perfect specimen to play out some of the concepts I’ve been discussing about time and technology.”
But Paleozoic Arthropods aren’t the only creatures finding a home in a Jud Turner collection. “Warthogs…” he explains, “…are just so damn ugly, they come full circle to being beautiful to me.“
The beauty of a warthog’s ugliness inspired Turner to come out with a series of sculptures, praising their bodily oddities. “That project was more of an exploration of different sculptural processes,” he explains, “but it gave me a great excuse to make a bunch of hogs.”
The projects getting the most attention right now are yet another distinct sculpture of Turner’s. A primitive human skeleton, with arms and legs that turn into wheels forming a bicycle sounds more like something that would show up for an episode or two of Power Rangers. Yet, Turner’s beliefs regarding the flow of time come through clearly enough that such a disgraceful comparison is the last thing from your mind. The title?
“’Muerto-cycle’ is the most literal visual representation of the merger of man/machine that I could think of.”
“Muerto-cycle” is joined by two other cycling-related pieces, “Bio-cycle,” and the more current “R-Evolve,” which has netted Turner a place in the Bicycle Film Festival’s sculptural gallery, “Joyride.”
While we absorb the technological ease of modern life, Turner asks that we consider a simple truth: Eventually, we all become fossils. “The relationship and merger between the organic, natural world and industrial technology is a theme I’ve explored a lot.”
Turner is an artist in a time where expression is one of the most successful weapons, and, like all artists, his work is indicative of the times he lives in. As wars are fought and rights are squelched, he tries to maintain an outlook that is difficult to keep in times of global turmoil: Hope.
“I believe that greater truth is that WE have an opportunity to unite in our Oneness and overcome the greatest challenge humans have ever faced, and that this will happen in ways none of us can imagine individually.”
Turner is not the first artist to suggest that people come together to save themselves, and he will be far from the last. His comparisons of the past and the present illustrate a haunting truth, in that our lives are all connected, and the inability to see this may wipe us out entirely. “If that happens, it will be because we have been so caught up in our individual comforts that we failed to see our connectedness – the oneness of everything,” he states.
“We may be the first species to cause its own extinction.”
Jud Turner’s latest sculptural piece, “R-Evolve”, will be featured in the “Joyride” Exhibit at the Anonymous Gallery in NYC, as part of the Bicycle Film Festival from June 18th through the 22nd. You can also check out his online gallery at www.judturner.com.
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