Hirschl & Adler Modern is pleased to present Elizabeth Turk: Written in Stone, a series of twenty-three hand-carved marble sculptures created over the past decade by the internationally recognized and highly lauded sculptor, her first new body of work in marble to debut simultaneously and in its entirety since 2014. Represented by Hirschl & Adler Modern since 2000, Elizabeth Turk has continued to push the limits of her medium with hand-wrought forms that defy their materiality while speaking to larger conceptual and social concerns. Her previous solo endeavors with the gallery include The Collars (2006), Ribbons and Pinwheels (2008), Cages (2012), Script (2014), Tensions (2014–15), and Tipping Point: Echoes of Extinction (2021).
Elegant and understated, the beauty of calligraphic scripts has resonated across cultures and time. Elizabeth Turk: Written in Stone marks the change caused by technological communication—the ubiquitous keyboard and AI—and seeks to question the transformation of everyday handwriting and the human experience. What happens when the curved lines of a scripted passage no longer hold meaning, or even exist? Or when the generations of tomorrow merely glance at a handwritten letter, fail to understand it, cannot decipher it, and simply move on, losing its nuances to history? Through this new series, Elizabeth Turk conveys this fundamental shift with unmatched grace and technical dexterity.
Marble, a memorial stone, is Turk’s chosen material to convey this shift. As Turk writes in the catalogue essay, “For me, an aimless curved line with its own tenuous link to a greater geological story is the ideal metaphor. I sculpt an endless line that leads nowhere … defying the notion of stone as a solid, everlasting monument. There is an obvious paradox in a memorial of something as ephemeral and anthropocentric as script created with a solid, seemingly permanent rock gilded with a mineral, gold leaf.” Over the ten years that Turk has been making these works, fewer and fewer children have learned how to read or write script. Turk calls this a “quiet extinction, one that is happening every day.” Long after the changes of this moment take place, these sculptures will remind us of the strength, endurance, and lasting importance of what we have left behind.
A native Californian, Elizabeth Turk (b. 1961) is known for her hand-carved marble sculpture and community engagement events. She is a MacArthur Fellow, an Annalee & Barnett Newman Foundation recipient, and a Smithsonian Artist Fellow. Turk received her MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, Rinehart School of Sculpture in 1994 and her BA from Scripps College, Claremont, CA in 1983. In 2017, she launched ET Studios (a California non-profit) to develop open community experiences, which she likes to refer to as social sculpture. Turk's work can be found in numerous permanent public collections including The Jewish Museum (New York, NY); The National Museum for Women in the Arts (Washington, DC); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA); and Mint Museum (Charlotte, NC), among numerous others. Turk has been the frequent subject of solo exhibitions at museums around the country. Currently, Turk splits time between a studio in Santa Ana, CA and New York City. She has been represented by Hirschl & Adler Modern since 2000.