Avis Turner

"Creating art is my dance with the universe. It is my breathing.”

Always a maker-of-things as a child, Avis knew she would become an artist. She has been sculpting professionally since 1987.  With an undergraduate degree in Art Education (1981); Turner continued her studies at the American University in Washington D.C.  

During this time, she focused on sculpture, training classically using live models, and learning from Professor, Mark Oxman.  Avis was awarded both a graduate fellowship to study at AU and the Art Department’s Watkins Purchase Prize.  During her graduate work, she also became the recipient of the National Sculpture Society’s Student Fellowship Award in 1985.  Avis completed her MFA in 1986.

Historical influences can be traced back to the refined, seated kings and queens of ancient Egypt, and the standing female Korai of Greece’s Archaic period. Additionally, and without question, inspiration also came from the ancient Greek Nikes, or winged-victory figures. 

Turner’s images are very archetypal, and often manifest the Feminine.  Her avian humans, meadow gatherers, and winged-beings appear like shapeshifters. These triadic-beings are part human, part animal and part angel.  Like Rilke’s “angels” in the Duino Elegies, Turner’s sculpted images seem to exist in liminal spaces. They soar, and are at once - rooted in solid animal wisdom, distracted by gritty human pathos, and elated by states of pure grace.   

Of her work process, Avis says, “I work in the studio and the figures emerge from places which are beyond linear time. They are mythical and archetypal, yet have no specific story. As I envision this pantheon of bronze beings, they are nomadic, belonging to tribes of wanderers, who are perhaps, arriving from ancient, or future places.” The winged beings are “Angel” only in the broadest sense. They are perhaps more akin to Bodhisattvas, who are returning with blessings. 

Avis received an MFA (1986) with honors, from the American University in Washington. DC., where she studied the human form, working classically from the model, under Professor Mark Oxman. During this time, she was the recipient of the National Sculpture Society’s Student Fellowship Award (1985).

In 2008, Avis was awarded the Sculpture Prize- best in Show, from the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut.