Today we’d like to introduce you to Umut Demirgüç Thurman.
Umut, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
My story as an artist goes back to my childhood. I was drawing everywhere in our house – my parents’ phone books, newspapers, books, and even on the walls. I was also interested in the art objects that I saw in our house and the houses I visited with my parents. I was spending hours carefully inspecting them and trying to understand how they were made. These interests made me want to study fine arts when I grew up. In 1997, I received my BFA at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Textiles and Fashion Design. I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, which is considered Old World. It is possible to see the remains of many different cultures and civilizations in Istanbul. Growing up in this culture naturally affected my art. Later, I studied in UNT’s Metalsmithing and Jewelry program under the mentorship of enameling master, Harlan Butt, earning my MFA in 2005. During my studies in UNT, I continued with the same style.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
My artwork is a mixture of my Textile Design and Metalsmithing background. I make jewelry and objects using precious metals and enamels. One of the many different influences in my work is my culture and heritage. I choose to use 16th-century Turkish textile motifs in my work. The materials I select are another major inspiration for me. The malleability of metals and the colors of enamels are very attractive to me. While studying textile and fashion design at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul, I gained my passion for colors and patterns. Incorporating Turkish motifs from carpets and tiles in my textile art, I explored vibrant color combinations. With enameling techniques (fused glass on metal), I am able to add bright colors to my metalwork. At first, I didn’t like enameling because I didn’t have control over it. It never came out of the kiln as I expected and I was frustrated with the surprises. With a lot of practice, I started learning the language of enameling.
In addition to these, pocket watches and little containers inspire me. I choose to make lockets because lockets allow me to combine simple geometrical shapes and pierced traditional motifs. Lockets have been a popular kind of jewelry throughout history. People use them as containers for their loved ones’ pictures, and they carry them on their body. Some other people store little things that are important to them inside their lockets and believe that lockets are secret keepers. Similarly, my lockets keep my cultural history as their secrets. In my work, visual aspects are as important as the concept. For this reason, beyond being conceptually strong, I make my lockets well crafted.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
These are the signs of success for me:
-The ability to feel joyful while working in the studio, and the excitement when I finish a piece.
-Peoples’ reactions on my artwork – they like it enough to buy and tell others about it.
-Acceptance in juried exhibitions and galleries.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work is sold in several different galleries and shops in USA and Turkey. Most recently, Threefold Gifts in Cleveland, https://www.threefoldgifts.com/, began carrying my work.
I have a website for my own work: http://www.umutdemirguc.com/
Many people contact me for one-of-a-kind commissioned pieces too.