Home ( 1999)

Portfolio photo of boxed assemblage art by Frank Turek


This is a nearly cube-shaped box. The inside backdrop is a top-to-bottom curve. This background is a color photo of two small empty boats on the water. The inside top is a satellite view color photo of a blue ocean with clouds above. The inside bottom is a black-and-white illustration of an alligator’s head with its jaws open. Leaning up against the back are two images—a slice of a postcard featuring a hand-colored photo of a palm tree and a small card of a black-and-white photo of people on horses during a trail walk. Peeking out from this card is a toy American Indian figure holding his arm up and wearing a full feather headdress. A black rubber rat is tucked on the lower left side. The frame is covered with a black-and-white photo of European architecture. The outside of the box—both sides, top, bottom, and back—is collaged with etched illustrations of the American West, with some accompanying text. The feet of the box are upturned game pieces.


This was an early work of mine where I purposefully used a limited number of images and objects to focus on the poetic balance of image and structure. Many of my larger works previous to this contained an abundance and complexity, so in comparison, this is unusually stripped down and focused more on its topic. The term home is a complicated word. Its use is problematic because of its multiple meanings and consecrated concepts. I do like to use weighty words like this for titles since they bring out the complexity inherent in an assemblage of previously unassociated images. In this sense, Home could refer to my art’s home base in that I’m using so few elements highlighting a basis of intent—bringing my art project /home/. But the more obvious takeaway, with the images of American culture, could reflect that this is a reference to my home nation, although because of the nature of the materials I use, this could be a loose interpretation of nearly any assemblage work of mine. But with this assemblage in particular, I think there is a sense of place. And all this is problematic because I’ve felt lifelong quandary about whether I should identify as American. Other than an instilled right to freedom of expression, I don’t find many things about this country that I feel at home with. I’ve felt more at home during my stays in Germany and Canada. So, in some ways, my assemblage piece deconstructs the notion of home, since the particulars will always point elsewhere.