seraphin gallery, philadelphia, art gallery, fine art, contemporary art, elissa tuerk
"My work develops from an intense curiosity about the world, an inquisitiveness that encourages me to constantly explore and experiment. Questioning established norms, I challenge traditional tools and materials, testing their limits and seeking new uses. Through repetition, illusion and fabrication, I explore the mutability and indefinable nature of the art object. Investigating conventions, sources of power, and control, my work breaks down barriers and dissects systems of authority, inviting the viewer to question what they consider to be official, normal, and accepted."
By: Bailey Dodds, Seraphin Gallery Resident
Edited by: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director, Seraphin Gallery
In our current exhibition: Interlude by Elissa Tuerk, the artist experiments with the tangibility and containment of physical form in two and three-dimensional sculpture. The private and public receptions on March 9th and 11th respectively, were well attended with much support for the young artist. Tuerk graduated from Moore College of Art and Design and has previously exhibited both sculpture and photography locally.
Throughout Interlude, Tuerk’s exploration of materials is evident, specifically in her two-dimensional brass sculpture. The artist exposes the brass to chemical deterioration through a process called patination- challenging the ideas of preservation and conservation. This synthetic process captures a peak moment of separation as the brass wears away and begins to rust, transforming the physical atomic structure. The effects of which, result in a wealth and variety of vibrant turquoise and earthen hues. The rough surface texture of each panel shows the multiplicity of outcomes possible with the oxidation process, while creating raised sculptural landscapes. There are a variety of speeds within the reactions, some immediate and some gradual. Each panel, created in a matter of months, is a testimony to the effect of time, which Tuerk uses to illustrate a process that occurs naturally over the course of a century.
Tuerk’s work illustrates the narrative of a uniformed whole with indivuated separation- demonstrated within the composition of each rock sculpture. There are varying degrees of imprisonment and liberation within Tuerk’s work. While walking through Interlude, viewers are encouraged to look closely at her carefully fabricated sculptures of rocks that are caged, suspended, or placed in an unconventional manner. It is apparent that the rock forms she has constructed are variations of one specific stone- creating a congregation of one element. Observers are also encouraged to pick up and move around the subjects in Of Thirteen, an installation consisting of twelve rocks that can form social groupings. Tuerk began this featured body of work with this exploration- conceiving the same subject over a dozen times, in order to further examine her focus and it’s relatability to the human psyche.
In Rock and Shelf Converge, the viewer observes the possible aftermath of a violent reaction between two recognizable mundane objects. The moment of separation (the negative space between the rock and shelf) forms an air of tension that draws the viewer into its center. Tuerk’s use of gravity inflicts a sense of mystery, leaving the onlooker to wonder when and how the conflict occurred. This particular work is one of three pieces exhibited together that create a dialogue of different identities and compositions that pose the same question to the viewer:
What is the relationship between the rock and shelf, and how does the absence of time lead to anxious ambiguity? These physical forms of juxtaposed concepts make an encapsulating collection.
Within each sculpture the observer can consider the response to a real or imagined social, political or systemic idea of conformity. While some of Tuerk’s work exhibits traditional aspects of art objects, others break through their systems of confinement. The viewer is left to question who and what the authority is - and why it is rejected, such as in Rock and Vitrine in Conflict. The pattern of rebellion is unpredictable, reflecting on the fact that she is portraying the natural and subsequently the uncontrollable.