MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 2010

Elizabeth Turk


Atlanta, Georgia

Age: 48 at time of award

Published September 28, 2010

Elizabeth Turk is a sculptor who transforms her signature medium of marble into strikingly intricate, seemingly weightless objects that defy expectations of a traditionally monumental, heavy, and prone-to-fracture material. While her past artistic projects have involved works in metal, glass, and porcelain, as well as drawings, photography, and video, Turk has focused on marble in her major series of works. Inspired by the challenges the hard stone poses for an artist interested in rendering nature’s most delicate forms, she has achieved an extremely fine level of detail in an often-unforgiving substance. Employing a variety of electric grinders, files, and small dental tools with a dexterous touch, her technical virtuosity is on full display in “The Collars,” a series of sixteen painstakingly carved sculptures that explore a rich variety of organic and geometric patterns. The elaborate collars in this collection combine allusions to decorative motifs and the self-organizing systems of the natural world, drawing from lace-making and Elizabethan fashion as well as botanical, skeletal, and architectural structures. Continuing the theme of fragile, textile-like compositions with the strength and heft of stone, Turk creates a surprising sense of buoyancy and undulating movement in her recent series of marble ribbons suspended in midair. With these and other visually arresting feats of precision, Turk is pushing the physical limits of her material and reviving a classical medium for contemporary artistic exploration.

Elizabeth Turk received a B.A. (1983) from Scripps College and an M.F.A. (1994) from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibits at such venues as the Mint Museum of Art (North Carolina), the University of Virginia Art Museum, the American Institute of Architecture (New York), and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC).


High-resolution photos for download. Photos are owned by the MacArthur Foundation and licensed under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY. Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Right-click on a link below to save the file to your computer.

Elizabeth Turk In the Media

"Geniuses Unite: An Atlanta Lawyer Becomes a MacArthur Fellow"

Atlanta Magazine
Elizabeth Turk, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
Shwetak Patel, 2011 MacArthur Fellow
Jonathan Rapping, 2014 MacArthur Fellow
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"The Art of Elizabeth Turk" thumbnail

"The Art of Elizabeth Turk"

The Laguna Beach Independent
Elizabeth Turk, 2010 MacArthur Fellow
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About the Fellows Program

The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction. Learn More

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Class of 2015

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23 New MacArthur Fellows Announced

MacArthur today named 23 new MacArthur Fellows working across a broad spectrum of endeavors. Read More