One to Watch

Wendi Turchan’s Organic Abstracts Blend the Real and the Imaginary

Wendi Turchan is an emerging artist living and working in Appleton, Wisconsin, United States. She received a MFA from the University of Oregon and a BFA from the University of Wisconsin. Wendi’s abstract paintings, characterized by their vivid hue and organic shapes, are about transformation in physical and emotional states, exploring the space between real and imaginary conditions. She creates unexpected and at times illusionary compositions by layering and obscuring these geometric forms, to parallel how perceptions of the past can shape our present and future.

Wendi is the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards of her works, including Dean’s Choice Award and the Frank Okada Scholarship for Excellence in Painting at the University of Oregon. She received the Playa Summer Lake Residency in 2015 and has participated in numerous exhibitions in the US, including a solo show at the Art Space Collective in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Visual Artists Biennial at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Her work has also been featured in issue 111 (spring 2014)  of New American Paintings.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?

My current work is an exploration of time and place utilizing small, temporary forms within the landscape. I wander and observe shapes, movement, and the changing qualities of light. Removing these small moments from their original context, I explore the potential of drawn, painted, and cut marks as an attempt to make sense of time, the inevitability of change, and new possibilities. As I work, the boundary between reality and memory become intertwined. Colors, forms, and edges act as a hinge between real and imagined conditions. Shapes are repeated and layered, depicting levels of concealment, and revealing unexpected forms. Through various methods of transparency and overlap, I reflect on a ghostly, illusive, and nonrepresentational space of distance and longing.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

To trust myself, and to be open to new discoveries. It can be easy to get comfortable with what you are doing or to allow self-doubt to prevent risk taking. I have recently discovered the importance of not allowing my inner critic stop me from trying something new.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?

Depending upon what is happening in my work, I will either listen to an audiobook or work in silence. I enjoy getting lost in a story. It helps me to keep myself from overthinking things. At other times, I need silence as I think through things. Music in the studio, no mater what type, tends to stress me for some reason!

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?

Mary Heilmann’s Save the Last Dance For Me.

Who are your favorite writers?

Rebecca Solnit, Jan Voerwoert, Haruki Murakami, Susan Stewart, and Robert Macfarlane.