February 2023: Scott Turri, practicing artist, arts writer, and Teaching Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Studio Art Department

About Scott: Over the last 20 years, my process has entailed making digital images that become the model for my handmade paintings. Exploring the relationship between digital and analog has provided a treasure trove of material with which to work. An avid collector and maker, having amassed a substantial archive of photographs, drawings, and digital imagery, I mine this archive when making the paintings and, more recently, animations. The work engages cycles of behavior by embracing the repetitive nature of existence. It shifts between external and internal stimuli focusing on imagery and ideas about home, place, and ritual within a nonlinear framework.

For Shelter in Place, I set extremely restrictive design parameters, having used the industrial design of a laundry basket as the source. The basket has evenly sized and spaced pill-shaped cutouts. This domestic household container is a metaphor; it constrains movement; therefore, working inside this structure signals a type of confinement. This intentional choice of using an industrial design, typically made and used for its functionality, as opposed to its beauty, behaves like a ready-made for me and indicates a distancing from the self. The repetitive positioning of the pills and circles is the underlying architecture for all the paintings in this series. Endless possibilities exist within this limited framework, implying mental freedom within a physical boundary.

Business of Living by Scott Turri

Hailing from suburban Philadelphia, where I spent my formative years, I now call Pittsburgh home. Along with my art-making habit, I am also a self-taught drummer and have written for New Art ExaminerBOMB Magazine, and Afterimage. In addition, I am a Teaching Associate Professor in the Studio Arts Department at the University of Pittsburgh and am currently represented by James Gallery.

PW Class of 1982: What do you do now for work?

Scott: I am a practicing artist, arts writer, and Teaching Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Studio Art Department. After I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, I was a practicing artist and musician, having played in a number of bands in Pittsburgh (never cracked the top 40!) and also worked as an administrator in the Pittsburgh branch of a fundraising firm based out of Falls Church, Virginia.

I was also predominantly a stay-at-home dad for the first 5 years of my oldest daughter’s life. I became very fond of the show Teletubbies and developed a real knack for improvising Barbie dialogue. My wife went back to college before the arrival of our children and earned her Computer Science Degree, and she was the one carrying the main financial load during this time.

When we had our youngest daughter, we switched roles, and she became a stay-at-home mom, and I got more entrenched in the teaching part of my career.

Joyless Joyride by Scott Turri

PW Class of 1982: Are you married? Kids?

Scott: I have been married for 35 years. I met my wife on a bus in Pittsburgh while an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh and found out that she lived one street away from me. Soon after that, we became inseparable and married shortly after graduation from college.

Given the fact that I was a Studio Art Major and she was a Philosophy major, we knew our financial future was set, so we both quit our jobs and took a two-month, mostly improvised bus trip across the country carrying our belongings on our backs as we navigated bus terminals and camping grounds all before cell phones. I remember my father-in-law saying before we left that we would have a good marriage if we could survive this trip. Good prediction.

We waited ten years before having our oldest daughter, who graduated with a Computer Science degree from Cornell University and currently works at the Software Engineering Institute, which is affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University.

We thought long and hard before deciding to have another child, but I’m so happy we did; four years later, we took the plunge and had our youngest daughter. She is currently a sophomore at Princeton University, potentially majoring in Architecture or Art. Yep somehow, even with the two of us as parents, our daughters have become more than the sum of their parts!

PW Class of 1982: What did you dream of becoming in high school?

Scott: Tough to remember, but either a musician, artist, or both. Dream fulfilled.

PW Class of 1982: Where did you go to college, grad school, etc.?

Scott: I received a BA (Studio Art) from the University of Pittsburgh and ten years later my MFA (Visual Art) from West Virginia University.

PW Class of 1982: What advice would you give to your high school self?

Scott: I don’t think noise-canceling headphones existed then, but I would have suggested wearing them frequently so that I could think without interference.

PW Class of 1982: What advice do you have for others about creating your best life?

Scott: I avoid giving advice because I am not an expert on the subject. Still, it varies significantly from individual to individual and obviously depends on a person’s values. For example, my strategy always prioritized free time so that I could spend it on the things that I love, such as my family, making art, traveling, reading, and swimming.

PW Class of 1982: What would you like to say to all of your classmates today?

Scott: When I think back to high school, I have many fond memories but also many cringe-worthy ones as well. I like to think that I have matured and become a better person over the years. I have certainly worked on it. But alas, I remain a flawed individual, something I remind my wife and daughters about often, and actually, they often point it out to me as well.  Best wishes to y’all.

Click here to learn more about Scott: www.scottturri.com