Jud Turner Sculptures: Cognitive Provocation through Visual Seduction

Jud Turner

Jud Turner

Jud Turner is a sculptor from Eugene, Oregon. He likes to break things almost as much as he likes to find new ways to put them back together. Jud works with found objects to make assemblages out of all kinds of materials. He is a sculptor. Recently we’ve met with Jud and it was a real pleasure for us to take an interview with Jud Turner. We wish you to enjoy reading and thank you very much for sharing!

AP: Jud, share your story about your first sculptures. What did they look like?

JT: I have always built things since I was a kid, and there is no clear line between when I stopped building forts and started making “art”. I grew up with a large yard, access to tools, and very supportive parents. My brother and I built elaborate forts, a wooden roller coaster, and various weapons. In high school, I used to try and make satirical portraits of my teachers using old chewing gum and school supplies.

AP: Do you have any formal education in sculpture design or were you self-taught?

Jud Turner Sculptures

The Chemical Straightjacket

JT: My formal education (early 1990’s) was in drawing and painting, but as I learned more about the formal techniques of those mediums, I found them to be less and less fun. For me, fun in art making is crucial – I won’t do a project that I don’t find to be fun to work on and think about. So I started making paper mache objects and enjoyed that very much. I wanted to work with a more permanent medium than wet newspaper, so I took one welding class and have been working in 3-D ever since. Looking back, I can see that my training in drawing and painting has been enormously helpful in being able to make 3-D works.

AP: What genre are your sculptures?

JT: I don’t identify my work in terms of genres or specific art movements. My job as an artist is to pursue the ideas that excite or interest me, and to share those ideas with others through my sculpture. I would never want to limit my exploration of ideas and influences by confining myself to a specific genre of work.

AP: How would you describe your works?

JT: I make assemblages of recycled and re-purposed objects. I make work that is immediately visually engaging, but which has secondary layers of meaning employ a dark humor to communicate an idea. I like to engage contradictions in both my subject matter and my use of materials. An example of what I mean by this is “Oblivion Factory“, a sculpture that is about the loss of industry and manufacturing in the US.

Jud Turner Sculptures

Oblivion Factory

The irony in the materials is that it is made out of little plastic train model parts which were made in China – the new center of industry and manufacturing; to make a visual comment on the loss of industry in the US, I had to use parts made outside the US that were once made here.

The majority of my sculptures have similar conceptual underpinnings, but I want them to also be beautiful as objects in themselves. One of my mantras is “Cognitive provocation through Visual seduction”.

AP: What kind of equipment and techniques do you use to create your works?

JT: To make found object assemblages, I need to have enough tools to allow me to take anything apart, and to put very dissimilar materials back together. I use saws, hammers, cutting torches, grinders and hand tools to take things apart, and welding, glues, and mechanical hardware to put things back together. For someone with a background in drawing, I do almost no drawings as preliminary work to make my sculptures. Today, I use drawing mainly to jot down an idea I will revisit later, or when required by formal proposal for public art works.

Jud Turner Sculptures

Surveillence Bot #1

JT: I am in the middle of the most grandiose project I have ever done right now: I have been commissioned by a new art museum in Washington State to create a life-sized woolly mammoth skeleton out of found objects, mostly old farm equipment. It’s not the largest thing I’ve built (that would be the chapel wall of found objects at BRING, which is 20 feet tall in places, and 40 feet wide), but it will involve lots of heavy, metal parts 14 feet off the ground. It’s so large that I had to get a bigger studio to build it.

AP:  Would you consider yourself as an expert in sculpture design?

JT: Yes, and No. I have been making found object sculptures for nearly 20 years now, and have certainly put in more than the 10,000 hours that some suggest is the number needed to achieve mastery over any field, so in that way, I suppose I qualify as an “expert”. But I want to maintain a “beginner’s mind” when I approach a project, and with found object sculpture making, that’s easier to do – no two sculptures are going to use the same methods of construction because the individual pieces are so unique. There are new problems to solve with every piece I make, and that’s a large part of the fun for me.

AP: What is the formula for success in your activity?

JT: A long time ago, someone advised me to “Follow your allurements”, and this is the single best “formula” for success in life. The other ingredient is hard work and self-discipline. Making found object sculpture is very labor intensive, and requires many hours of working alone in the studio. While I manage to find a great deal of fun in the processes, I have developed all kinds of techniques to keep myself motivated and accountable to the demands of the studio – I keep a timesheet for studio work, and have entire systems of rewards and punishments to keep myself on track.

AP:  Is there someone who supports you in your creativity?

JT: For the past 13 years, my partner and now wife, Melissa, has been the most supportive and consistent presence in my life. Aside from giving me the time and space to make my art, my relationship with Melissa keeps me happy and balanced, and those are critical qualities to have in order to make good art.

AP: Would you like to wish something to your readers and AstrumPeople?

JT: I wish for anyone reading this to have the luxury to pursue whatever interests you as fully as you possibly can. By doing this, you will find yourself, connect with your community, and ultimately meet your God.

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