Elizabeth Turk SC ’83 was named a 2010 MacArthur fellow on Sept. 28. A sculptor living in Atlanta, Georgia, Turk was awarded the $500,000, no-strings-attached grant for “transforming her signature medium of marble, a traditionally monumental and prone-to-fracture material, into intricate, seemingly weightless works of art,” according to the MacArthur Fellowship’s website.
As Turk explains, her art is “about what’s not there.”
“That call [from the MacArthur Foundation] was like gulping a cocktail of every emotion one can imagine swirled together: excitement, disbelief, awe and wonder,” Turk said in an interview with the magazine Burnaway. In an interview posted on the MacArthur Fellowship’s website, she said, “Receiving this fellowship … at first I thought, oh, it will resolve all these problems … I felt this enormous sense of pressure that was taken off, and … the next thought … was, ‘You’ve got to create something unbelievably great now.’”
Several of Turk’s sketches are in the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery’s collection. They were exhibited in 2003 as part of the gallery’s exhibition titled “Matter and the Matrix.”
Turk was one of 23 people to receive the MacArthur grant this year for “creativity, originality, and potential to make important contributions in the future.” Other recipients of the award included an entomologist working on honeybee preservation, a quantum astrophysicist, and an indigenous language preservationist working to reconstruct the Wampanoag language from 18th-century documents.
The grant, which is delivered quarterly over a period of five years, was established in 1981. Other recipients of the award include David Foster Wallace, the former Disney Professor of Creative Writing at Pomona, and Jonathan Lethem, who is set to fill Wallace’s former position next semester.