Atlanta’s Gregor Turk has become well known for his public art installations, sculpture, photography and mixed media works, with a little mapping imagery, signage and cultural markings thrown in for good measure. Think an 86-foot-long ceramic map depicting aerial imagery at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and a map of the local interstate system made from rubbed car plaques at the High Museum of Art. Here, the artist who’s presenting his Reclaim/Proclaim [Blandtown] exhibition showcasing the historic West Midtown neighborhood at Downtown’s Gallery 72 Oct. 10 through Nov. 22 dishes about his life and work.
What led you to pursue art as a career?
From an early age, I was always making things, typically focusing on the tactile rather than purely visual. After college, while in the Peace Corps in Liberia, I used clay dug from termite mounds to construct cook stoves. My passion for clay, and, even more so, mapping, took me on to graduate school in ceramic sculpture. Today, I use clay to depict ideas about the Earth, and repurposed rubber to speak to reuse, transit and protection through wrapping and binding.
How did the Blandtown show come about?
Having my art studio there for the past 16 years, I continually scoured the area for remnants of its past, familiarizing myself with existing infrastructure and sites, and interviewing former residents. With the razing, rezoning, redevelopment and renaming of the central core to ‘West Town,’ I erected a billboard in my front yard proclaiming the neighborhood’s proper name and incorporating the founder’s name, Felix Bland. That project and the resulting exhibition are the culmination of my years spent in, and knowledge of, Blandtown—part history lesson, part manifesto and civic rousing.
What highlights can we expect to see?
The wall-mounted sculpture ‘Trace,’ which uses the hollow space of rubber-wrapped wood forms to depict the neighborhood’s last 20 original houses; and Red, White & Black, a series of high-contrast black-and-white images of the area’s development, infrastructure and landmarks.
What do you hope people glean from
A newfound appreciation for the neighborhood with the derided name—that not only is the history reclaimed, but the name is proclaimed and even embraced.