Oral history interview with Robert Turner, 2001 June 11
Turner, Robert Chapman, 1913-2005
Carney, Margaret, 1949-
National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (U.S.)
Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America
Place of publication, production, or execution:
District of Columbia
Transcript: 48 pages.
Originally recorded on 2 digital audio tapes. Reformated in 2010 as 2 digital wav files. Duration is 3 hr., 23 min.
An interview of Robert Turner conducted 2001 June 11, by Margaret Carney, for the Archives of American Art's Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, at Smithsonian Productions, in Washington, D.C.
Turner speaks of his childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.; his father's business, Turner Concrete (now called Turner Construction); drawing classes; attending the George School for a post-graduate year before attending Swarthmore College, where his major was economics; the importance of Quakerism in his life and work; traveling throughout Europe and the Southwestern United States; his marriage to Sue, their trip to Europe during the outbreak of World War II and the difficulty of coming home to America; his involvement in war activities as a conscientious objector; the transition after the war ended into a "different reality"; visiting the different schools of craft, including Penland, Alfred, and Haystack; attending Alfred University, the teachers and students there during his years there; his relationships with other students, such as Ted Randall and Bill Schickel; teaching at Black Mountain College immediately after his graduation from Alfred; his admiration of Marguerite Wildenhain; his involvement in the first Super Mud phenomenon in 1966; how African culture fits into his work; the collaborative effort at Penland; the establishment of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), and his experience as the third president of the group; his "retirement" since 1979; the types of materials he uses; the awards he has received; galleries and exhibitions in which he has exhibited; and recollections of Bill Brown, founder of the Penland School of Crafts. Turner also recalls Josie Adams, Charles Harder, Kurt Ekdahl, Marion Fosdick, Bill Pitney, Jessie Shefrin, and others.
Quotes and excerpts must be cited as follows: Oral history interview with Robert Turner, 2001 June 11. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for this interview was provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Funding for the digital preservation of this interview was provided by a grant from the Save America's Treasures Program of the National Park Service.
Robert Turner (1913-2005) was a ceramic artist from Alfred, N.Y. and Sandy Spring, Maryland. Margaret Carney (1949- ) is the director of the Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art in Alfred, N.Y.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics, and administrators.
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001