A Warm, Soft Space to Rest, and a Vessel for Our Deepest Selves

It’s coming to the time of the year when seniors across all majors are buckling down to finish their theses and graduate. For some, this means completing a paper or an exploratory project, for others, a work of fiction or a piece of performing art. For the studio art majors, it’s time for them to compile an art exhibit to represent the work they’ve done over the past four years. Leo Turpan, a senior studio art major from East Hampton, NY,  had his art show this past week.

Photo by Daniel Sarché

Turpan “never considered the possibility of being an art major before coming to CC,” but his introduction to 3D design class with Scott Johnson opened his mind and his eyes “to looking at the world and working in a completely foreign way,” Turpan said, “Because of the intense focus of the Block Plan, I could literally feel my brain working in a different and new way, and that excited me.” Rather that choosing a more traditional academic focus, Turpan declared as a studio art major to “tackle something completely new.” 

When it came time for choosing the material focus of his thesis, Turpan chose beds and mattresses. creating a show consisting of a “combination of photography using slide film and projections with three- dimensional sculptures.” His artist statement, which accompanied a map of the various sculptures and projections in the space, described his inspiration for the show, which arose from an interest in questioning how people look at beds and the roles that they play in each of our lives. “The bed is simultaneously the warm, soft place of our rest and a vessel for our deepest selves; it bears the harsh weight of our wild subconscious and emotional lives,” Turpan’s artist statement said. “Each day we rise from those depths to greet the light, and each day we return with more to let sink in.” He used these ideas to formulate the intention of examining the bed’s purpose and subverting their basic connotations. 

Turpan decided to dissect the bed in both a physical and a non-physical sphere. To discuss the physical, he described each part of the bed, giving them meaning and reason: “The sheets hold the portraits of our bodies’ impressions, the soft foam absorbs our dreams, and a giving metal interior supports us from sinking down below the surface.” When talking about the more emotional side of the project, however, Turpan had to move outside the material realm to access a deeper meaning. “Although individually the bed serves as a private space, those of us who are lucky enough all share the common experience of the bed as a constant in our daily lives—a constant that records our changes as we learn, grow, move, and become who we are.” 

While many different majors’ theses take significant amounts of time to complete, Turpan has been working on the physical pieces since the beginning of the fall and started conceptualizing the idea about a year ago; the satisfaction at the culmination of the final product was a long time coming. “The show was received very well,” Turpan said. He had a “great critique with the art faculty,” and feels proud of the work. “It seemed that everyone who visited had different favorites,” he said, “Hopefully it impacted them emotionally and changed the way they look at their own beds.”

When reflecting on his time as a studio art major, Turpan said that his favorite thing was the “collaborative spaces that we as students get to share, work in, and grow together in as we move forward with our personal work.” He added that this particular aspect of the major occurred specifically within the senior thesis program. Moving the conversation from the major as a whole to his show specifically, Turpan said that his favorite piece in his exhibit was called “Metamorphosis,” which is made up of a stone sculpture inside of a bed frame. He described the piece as a “great coming together and synthesis of looking at how time in a place, the landscape, the surroundings, and the people of that place influence who you become.” 

When asked whether he plans on pursuing art after graduating from CC, Turpan said that while he doesn’t have any concrete plans to, there is potential. “I’m planning on travelling and seeing where photography may take me, but looking to do something with my hands/some type of creative work,” he said. This sentiment echoed what he said in the second part of his artist statement: “Wherever it is we rise each morning, we do so as the cumulative being of all that has come before, with our beds as witness.”

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