Friday, October 2, 2009

I Need Friends Friday: Andrew Turley

It's that time of the week:

(Every Friday I interview a different person and share that interview with you. Perhaps they will be a fellow-author. Perhaps one of my neighbors. Maybe the bagger at the grocery store. A member of my family. A follower of this blog. Maybe it will be you! Hey, it could happen.)

Today's friend is Andrew Turley, a talented sculptor and artist. He currently has artwork on display at the Springville Art Museum as part of the Utah Valley University faculty art show. His works include: "Self Portrait in 7 Generations," and busts of himself, his father and grandfather entitled "Dust to Dust." Andrew teaches Sculpture and 3D design at UVU (not on the computer, but in the studio where getting dirty is still allowed).
He also happens to be my cousin.

Alright. Let's go!

SME: Welcome to INFF!

Andrew: Pleased to be here.

SME: Explain, if you will, what it is that you do.

Andrew: I make art about geneology, mostly my own. I would classify it as sculpture. Almost every project has a new material. That keeps me engaged, but working with something new slows down the process at times.

SME: Does play dough count as an official sculpting medium--'cause I struggle with just play dough.

Andrew: Play dough presents some archival problems, but may be a good material to start with.

SME: Beginner level sounds very fitting.
At kindergarten graduation last year, all the kids were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. One kid wanted to be a giant spider. Another hoped to be a cookie maker. No one said "artist." When did you decide to be an artist?

Andrew: Sometime during the 3rd grade; the giant spider thing wasn't working out.

SME: Had to let go of the spider dream, eh? It's hard when one's life ambition falls through. At least you had "be a rockin' sculptor" to fall back on.

Andrew: I became progressively interested through high school.

SME: Did your high school offer classes in sculpting, or did you learn on the side?

Andrew: No 3D, really. Before my sophomore year of college my mom told me not to cover the bananas in clay. It was actually all clay--she mistook it for the real thing, I guess. I took a painting class and a sculpture class that next semester and decided I wanted to make art in real space.

SME: I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the artwork you created for your thesis--all on a genealogical theme, like you said. "Imprint" is made up of several generations of hand prints. I LOVED it! I'll admit, I actually got a little emotional looking at that one. I've always had this thing about touching things that people have touched in the past. To me it is such a tangible link to history and people, and that work really represented that feeling for me.

Andrew: Did you guess whose prints they were?

SME: I'm guessing the smallest one was your daughter and the others were her pedigree chart--dad, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Andrew: That's right. There's a blank sheet as well for my Grandma May who has passed on.

SME: And, honestly, that touched me probably even more than if there had been a print there.
Speaking as a teacher/professional/artist... which would you say is most important in a young, budding artist (and by young, I mean elementary school): obvious talent or raw enthusiasm? 'Cause I have a kid with one of those characteristics, but not necessarily the other.

Andrew: I lean towards enthusiasm. I do feel a need to make stuff and seem to have a knack for it, but I believe an artist is an author of ideas more than a craftsman. What one has to say takes precedence over skill--not to say you shouldn't work on technique, learn the rules and all that.

SME: So I should enjoy the thousands upon thousands of drawings and sculptured mashed potatoes and other forms of somewhat edible art that I receive on a daily basis?

Andrew: I think so. I think artists should be like kids, exploring new things and treating their work as something fun to share with those around them. Although, I don't know if I would eat the mashed potatoes.

SME: And that, I think, constitutes the first INFF "Tips for Parenting the Excessively-Creative Child."

Andrew: Hey I have a story relating to your Excessively-Creative Childhood

SME: Uh-oh.

Andrew: We make family reunion albums with my siblings and I asked them what songs to put on a California one when we go back.

SME: Oh. No.

*I would just like to point out that this is one of the inherent risks in interviewing family members: they know far too much personal information!*

Andrew: They all said "If You Don't Know Me By Now."

SME: Never heard of it. *coughs, clears throat awkwardly*

Andrew: Are you sure? "We all have our funny moods. I've got mine. Woman you've got yours too."

SME: Obviously the sculpting fumes are impacting your memory. I disavow all knowledge of any songs to which I may or may not have choreographed extremely emotional dances when I was at a very impressionable age.

Andrew: We can move on if you like, I suppose "we only act like children when we argue fuss and fight."

SME: Um. Yes. Moving on.
Let's jump right to the classic INFF quesion: What is your favorite continent?

Andrew: I believe South America received a shout out last week. I'll have to second that, considering my time spent in the Andes.

SME: Excellent! That's 2 for South America. And 2 friends who have lived there. I am feeling very international. Last week's friend, Marsha Ward, mentioned the food in South America. Anything in particular that stands out in your memory, culinarily speaking?

Andrew: We ate potatoes daily. The Inca developed it as an edible crop. I also had nightmares about Api.

SME: Api? What is that?

Andrew: It's a purple corn drink that is overly sweet and has chunky texture. It retains its scorching heat indefinitely. I just gagged. Reflex.

SME: I'm gagging just thinking about it. Chunky, scorching, purple beverage. Yeah. I'm understanding the nightmare thing.
I noticed on your blog a while back that you recently finished sculpting dinosaur skeletons. What the heck? Who does that? Do paleontologists just bring you a handful of bones and say "Could you make this into a stegosaurus for us?"

Andrew: I did that with a friend of mine, a summer job between school years. People contact the boss, knowing some of his work and ship him priceless fossils, which we subsequently break, glue back together and slap bondo on to fill in missing parts.

SME: So no pressure: "Here's something invaluable that could never be replaced." Are you given any kind of direction? Or do you just get to get all artistic on the Jurassic period?

Andrew: My boss was quite knowledgeable, but sometimes he would say, "Make up what you want, no one's ever found that part so you know as well as I."

SME: That is completely and totally nuts. In a cool way. I will never look at a dinosaur skeleton the same way again.
As you probably know, INFF absolutely requires silly and pointless games. I have one for you. Aren't you excited?

Andrew: WOOOOOO! Are there ice cream prizes- or Cerretas, hear you give that out like, well candy.

SME: Actually, I'm so glad you brought that up. There will be another giveaway--next week (Details on Monday!). Win this game and I will automatically enter you in the drawing!!!

Andrew: Don't you also have to enter me into another drawing of sorts, like a portrait?

SME: Ooh, a play on words. We author-types like that sort of thing. Very impressive, oh artistic one.
So, the game. October is the month when amateur sculptors pull out their itty-bitty knives and really enormous spoons and try their hand at creating art. Yes, the month of the Jack O' Lantern. Seeing as how you are not an amateur like the rest of us, I'd like to show you a few pumpkin carvings and have you judge their artistic merit.

Andrew: Sounds spooktacular. Did I just go too far with the word play?

SME: Just a tad.
I'm going to show you 3 Jack O' Lanterns that I have grouped into a category and you tell me which one is the best--professionally speaking.
The first group --->

Andrew: Impressed with the green flame in C. I like the humor in B- my head is on fire so I'm crossing my eyes, but I would have to go with A. The eyes set the right spooky tone and the flames look great.

SME: That's correct! (Whichever one you had picked would have been correct. Isn't this a great game?)

Andrew: Good, I almost picked B, for enthusiastic effort.

SME: Okay. Group #2.

Andrew: I'd say A. Best stretching of the aggressor's mouth, and most appropriate Fall setting.

SME: Again, correct. How do you do it?

Andrew: It comes with reading Calvin and Hobbes--the snowmen cartoons relate quite nicely to these seasonal sculptures.

SME: Alright. This last group is trickier, because there IS 1 correct answer and 2 very incorrect answers. But no pressure. Okay, actually, lots of pressure.

Andrew: Wait a minute, there are no correct answers in Art--just in math and science, right?

SME: The "correctness" has nothing to do with artistic merit, but with my own sense of self-preservation, which I have placed on the line here. Group #3...

Andrew: Wait is that the pumpkin that looks like 'me' me, or 'you' me?

SME: Like me. Your fearless interviewer, who is very much afraid in this moment.

Andrew: I would say C. Bright. Cheery. Kempt hair at all times. No rings around the eyes.

SME: Ding. Ding. Ding. That is correct. 3 for 3. I think that makes you a winner!

Andrew: Do I win Carl's voice on my home answering machine?

SME: Um. Sorry. I can't pull those kinds of strings. But it does get you into the prize drawing next week.

Andrew: Sweet.

SME: So, I do believe it is time for the great unveiling of your stick figure portrait. In honor of you and your chosen profession, I have changed things up a little.

Andrew: I trust you used actual sticks to reflect the branching nature of my work.

*The sound of creative genius at work--oddly enough, no heavy marker aroma.*

Andrew: I am amazed, I was really hoping for a portrait in true 3D. A, for enthusiasm! The hair even appears to be another material as well.

SME: Hooray!! I feel very validated. That was my first sculpture--not counting the play dough snakes I used to make as a kid.

Andrew: I actually am amazed that I hoped for an actual 'stick' figure moments before seeing my portrait. Are those leaves?

SME: Oh, yes. The shoes--'cause all my stick figures have shoes--are made out of leaves. I was all about multiple materials.

Andrew: The forked branch was an excellent choice to exhibit contrappostos.

SME: That is precisely what I was going for. I think.

Andrew: As employed by Grecian sculptors to suggest a naturalistic gesture.

SME: Yep. I'm pretty much an expert.
And now the usual final question. Top 5 reasons this is the best blog interview you've ever done. Ready. Go.

Andrew: 1. I got to think about eating, without actually eating- kind of like when I just open the Nutella jar to smell the rich goodness.
2. I was flattered, almost to tears, that the portrait utilized actual branches.
3. I got some new ideas for jack-o-lanterns.
4. I got to talk about art.
5. I still had enough time between questions to check on my pot of boiling moose bones. (Cleans out the stink...hopefully.)

SME: Wonderful. Except for the moose bones smell. I'm trying not to think about that.

Andrew: I'm boiling while my wife is away. I think I'll pour some more pine-sol on the ground before she gets back.

SME: Yes. Lots of pine-sol. Thanks for stopping by and being my Friday Friend!

Andrew: I enjoyed it, I guess "if you don't know me by now, you will never, ever, ever know me."

SME: Ahem. Continuing to disavow.

*cue exit music* Well, this has been "I Need Friends" Friday. Come back next week when I will make another friend!!

If you'd like to be interviewed for "I Need Friends" Friday, shoot me off an email: friends at sarahmeden dot com!
I am looking for anyone and everyone, whether or not you think you are interesting. You'll get a fantastic stick figure portrait of yourself, a little promotion (if you're looking for that sort of thing) and the opportunity to tell your friends and family that you've been interviewed by SME, er... by ME!


Aubrey said...

Sarah, I really thought I knew all about you. But if I don't know you by now, I fear I may never, never, never know you.

Sorry-- I just couldn't resist. :)

Laun and Catherine said...

Another great interview

Jewel said...

Bwahahaha!! That was one of your funniest yet!! I especially liked the pumpkin contest. And his art really is beautiful--I loved that you put in the picture of his sculpture, "Imprints." It gave me chilss. Anyways, enough gushing. Just--good job. Yeah.

Jessica G. said...

Loved "Imprint." Very touching. No pun intended.

And I now I've got "If you don't know me by now" stuck in my head...complete with an interpretive dance.


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