December 4, 2020

Professor becomes new Laumeier Sculpture Park curator

Over 75 outdoor sculptures fill the 105 acres of Laumeier Sculpture Park. The potential of this unique outdoor space excites Laumeier’s new curator of exhibitons Dana Turkovic, Webster alumna and adjunct teacher.
Turkovic said Laumeier Sculpture Park provides a unique work place.
“Not a lot of curators have that opportunity, necessarily, to think about this outdoor space,” Turkovic said.
Turkovic graduated from Webster in 1998 with a BFA in painting. She believes her experience as a painter contributes to her curating today.
“In retrospect, the things that I was painting and the things I was thinking about as a painter have really manifested themselves in how I think about curating,” Turkovic said. “My interests as a painter and the content of the work have re-emerged in a little bit of a different way.”
In college, Turkovic wasn’t certain she wanted to make painting her career; she also studied graphic design. After graduating from Webster, Turkovic worked in graphic design in St. Louis, then moved to LA where she worked in UCLA’s Hammer Museum.
While working at UCLA, the chance to combine artistic elements and academics through curating attracted Turkovic. She moved to London and attended Goldsmiths, University of London for her MFA in curating.
Turkovic moved back to the U.S. shortly after completing graduate school, just to start over.
“What better place to start over,” Turkovic said. “Just go back home and see what you can do.”

Max Bouvatte, The Journal

After returning to St. Louis, an invitation to curate a show for the Hunt Gallery at Webster transformed into a permanent position. Turkovic was hired as Hunt Gallery coordinator.

She describes her experience at the Hunt Gallery as a “very real, professional time.” The gallery gave Turkovic the opportunity to work with local, national and international artists on exhibitions.
Curating involves more than organizing artwork. Turkovic sees curating as an opportunity to tell stories and explore themes through exhibition making.
Turkovic co-curated her first Hunt Gallery show with John Watson, Webster associate professor.

“She has a really good sense of what kind of work is not only interesting in it’s own right, but is going to come together and make an interesting show,” Watson said.
While directing the Hunt Gallery, Turkovic also independently curated  galleries in St. Louis for five years. After that, a temporary curating opportunity at Laumeier evolved into a full-time position.
At Laumeier, she has to keep in mind not only what the work says about itself, but also what relationship it has with the landscape.

“The thing I’m really excited about is this potential, viewing this landscape as the galleries,” Turkovic said. “That’s how this collection functions.”
While in London, Turkovic discovered the Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. The Speakers’ Corner is an area in which the public can speak, debate and discuss anything they choose. Turkovic wanted to replicate the spirit of the Speakers’ Corner with Laumeier’s upcoming exhibit, Poetry in Place: the Platforms”.
“People can come and share their poetry,” Turkovic said. “They can rant and rave if they want to.”

The exhibit is done in partnership with American Arts Experience – St. Louis, an annual celebration of American art in various mediums.
Turkovic said her curiosity creates her shows.
“How can I bring it to me? If I don’t necessarily understand something and it seems very foreign to me, what’s my way of understanding it?” Turkovic said. “It was a way of familiarizing myself with something that seemed very different. It’s really about learning.”
Turkovic will remain an adjunct faculty member available for independent study courses related to curating. Keeping that option available for students to diversify their studies is important to her.

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