CAROLE TURBIN  374 11th St. Brooklyn, NY 11215  (718) 499-3244  c.turbin@earthlink.net


I came to fine art in the early 1990s as a teacher, scholar, and writer. My essays and books are about the history of everyday life in the late 19th to early 20th centuries, including women's labor and household work and men's and women's dress. I tried to shed light on the significance of ordinary things, which are often unnoticed because they are taken for granted. As an artist, I create drawings and lithographs that are also about objects and settings, which are so ordinary that most casual observers barely take notice of them. Just as historians are as true to the concrete reality of their subject as possible, as an artist I describe objects and settings precisely. An observer of my images of sinks and pipes who is familiar with household plumbing will recognize as accurate my renderings of joints and tactile metal and porcelain surfaces. I view the process of drawing in charcoal and pencil on paper and with lithographic crayon on stone as analogous to skills that artisans used to create the objects that I depict in my work, such as plumbing and furniture.

Yet in the visual arts, as in writing, precision does not preclude the expression of drama and mood. I work in black and white tones, which evoke old photographs, cinema, and a remembered past, and I invite observers of my images to create color and meaning in their own minds, much as those who read social history imagine visual scenes of people and objects of past times. No human figures inhabit this artwork, yet there is a human dimension to my drawings and lithographs. I view my images of sinks, pipes, and water towers as metaphors for much that goes on within our bodily plumbing and even our psyches, which is seen and unseen, felt and unfelt, efficient and problematic. Some of my lithographs do depict a figure, the Statue of Liberty, not the idealized female in New York harbor but groupings of small bronze-plated models, which were souvenirs of New York City in the 1940s to 1970s.

Working with a visual subject with historical significance brought me full circle, back to writing and history. I have written a memoir, "Souvenir", in which my artwork and old photographs bring to life the story of my father who sold souvenirs of New York City to tourist shops.

 

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