Elizabeth Turk’s uncommon stone sculptures promise to stand the test of time.
Nature took millions of years to produce the marble that Elizabeth Turk (elizabethturksculptor.com) shapes for her art. By comparison, the California native works lightning fast, spending just months to carve each massive slab into an ethereal ribbon, cage, coil, or other form. “I never touched stone when I was in grad school,” says Turk, who received her MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture, at the Maryland Institute College of Art, in 1994. “I just jumped into it. I didn’t consider myself a carver.”
Today her merits as a stone carver are unquestionable. The 2010 MacArthur Fellow recently had her fourth solo show at Hirschl & Adler Modern, the notable Manhattan gallery. The exhibit featured pieces that juxtapose stones she gathered in the West with the marble forms she creates with diamond drill bits and other implements. Among the works displayed were the 2015 examples shown here: Marble & Baja Beach Stone 11 (left) and Marble & Baja Beach Stone 13 (far left), which measure 9 by 8 by 7 inches and 11.5 by 18 by 10 inches, respectively.
Turk also accepts private commissions. “So far it’s worked out, but it makes me very anxious,” she says, explaining that cutting into a piece of marble reveals fissures and other surprises that can force her to change her artistic plans in midstream. A client who is unfazed by an outcome not set in stone is likely to come away with a classic.