Interview with Carole Turner - Olympic sculpture competition finalist

Carole Turner

The following is an email interview I did with Carole Turner. Carole Turner was invited to participate in the Olympic sculpture competition. She is one of eight Americans selected from 2,433 entries from 81 countries.

Firstly congratulations in being selected to represent the United States in the international tour of the Beijing Olympic Landscape Sculpture Collection. How did you get interested in sculpting for the Beijing Olympic Games?

Thank you, it is an honor and has been a very interesting experience. I didn’t know of the competition until I received an invitation from Professor Yuan Xikun in late 2005. I had just returned from carving large blocks of stone in Vietnam and the idea of sculpting a small scale design in clay was appealing. But most appealing was the opportunity to participate in the reuniting of art and sports at the Beijing Olympic Games.

I sent photos of my design of a young gymnast to China in early 2006 and was really quite surprised when informed a few months later that it had been chosen as one of the 290 finalist designs. The finalists had one month to finish our maquettes and send them to Beijing, where they would be reproduced in bronze and other materials, in triplicate, to be exhibited throughout China. I customarily make my maquettes 1:10 size so it was rather small. I didn’t realize that it would be enlarged in China at that stage and was very surprised to see the finished bronze – it had grown to almost half life-size. While it didn’t look quite the same as my original design, I was very impressed at the dedication and efforts of the reproduction and foundry workers. I can’t imagine how they managed to mold, cast and fabricate so many sculptures of so many different artists and styles in such a short period of time.

When notified later that year that my sculpture had been selected for inclusion in the International Tour and the Catalogue I was stunned and humbled to be in the company of so many amazing designs. I am very thankful to the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee for this honor.

This past fall, two years after entering the competition, I was invited, along with the other American finalists, to take part in the U.S. opening of the International Tour. It was quite an experience and rather surreal to actually meet the other artists (we’d been corresponding via email for much of this time) and to see the sculptures in person. And we all were excited to finally meet Yuan Xikun, an inspiring artist and humanitarian and, incidentally, a very effective ambassador for China.

All in all, it has been an enlightening experience and I am thankful to be a part of it.

Chinese artists seem to be making new roads in the art world recently. Have you experienced this in your field?

There has been an explosion of interest in Chinese art and artists and it’s exciting to see so much coverage in all of the art publications. And lately, of course, there’s been a lot of attention on record setting prices at auction. In a country as large as China, with such deep cultural and traditional background and so many new ideas coming forth, it will be interesting to see what’s next.

This competition has shone even more light on Chinese art and sculpture and has provided additional exposure to many, many talented artists. It is clear that with the high demand for Chinese art, there will be no shortage of supply!

You have spent time in both Europe and Asia, does either region have a stronger influence on your work?

While I will always be influenced by Greece, I am also strongly influenced by Asian art. I was very inspired after experiencing the “Splendors of Imperial China: Treasures from the National Palace Museum” exhibition at the Met in New York about 15 years ago and continue to be after seeing subsequent exhibitions in the United States and abroad, most recently in Moscow earlier this year.

As much as I love the traditional art, I am quite taken with the contemporary painting and sculpture coming out of China. There is so much talent and bold expression. I am always anxious to see more and look forward to doing so in China one day.

In your travels did you have a chance to visit Beijing or China and what was your impression?

I have not had the opportunity to visit China yet and very much look forward to doing so. I have been nearby several times but China is not a place for a quick visit – I know I will want to spend a substantial amount of time there. It is very high on my list of places I must visit. It is my dream to spend several months there, to, hopefully, arrange for studio space and to be able to create in the midst of absorbing what I am sure will be an overload of inspiration.

Finally, do you have a favorite Olympic sport or athlete?

Winter Olympics – ice skating, and Summer Olympics - gymnastics. I love to ice skate – but gymnastics are purely spectator!

Posted by Mike 10 years ago

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