Ben Turnbull: Good Grades Don't Really Matter
A couple of weeks ago my friend Paige West invited me to attend VoltaNY. I love going to art shows with her—she is a genius art collector and curator and I love her eye. I saw some great art, but the standout for me was artist Ben Turnbull. First because his work is genius, and, second, because something I saw made me laugh out loud. The genius part is that he has taken old authenitc school desks, removed the tops, and then carved out guns and other weapons. I read about his work later on Eleven Gallery’s site and found out his fascination with “global dominance of American culture” and his work reflects his feelings about the “unsettling effects result that from re-presenting the toys of our innocent youth in symbolic forms that reveal the shocking truths about war, death and guns in the world’s most powerful country.”
But really what I found hilarious was his report card which was posted at the back of a small catalogue featuring his work. In Form 5 he received a “G” grade in Art (think A, B, C, D, E, F, G). His art teacher, a P.A. Jathow, wrote about him, “He obtained just 2 out of 28 points in this examination—an unbelievably appalling result; he makes no effort and seems to find it all a colossal joke.” Ben must have driven this teacher crazy. Is that an angry teacher or what? Grades, Schmades.