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Tom Torluemke

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As an artist with considerable skills and extreme dedication to making my art, I am able to work in virtually any artistic style, format or medium.  Allowing me the flexibility to communicate visually in any way that suits the ideas I am trying to portray.  The inspiration for my work comes from many places, experiences I have had, socio-political events and ideas and a long standing search for ways to depict the elusive qualities and feelings of living. In order to convey some raw truth of these elusive elements, it is part of my regular practice to draw memories or visions with my eyes closed. Oftentimes, these drawings become the central component of my work.

My work does not easily fall into any one category commonly used to describe contemporary art. In part from my continued exploration for new invention and ways of communicating through the various media I use. The central thread that weaves through my work is that I strive to maintain the ability to experiment and freely express inner thoughts and feelings, no holds barred. These paintings are made with passion and urgency in an effort to have the viewer not only be invited into my world, but for them to see and feel familiar elements of their own experiences.

Born and raised in Chicago’s inner city, Tom Torluemke has always had a powerful impact on his immediate environs, including his current home of Dyer, Indiana, just across the Illinois border, as he continues to advocate for the educational role of the arts and strengthening the social and civic bonds between people and their communities. Through numerous public art projects, he has successfully employed the visual arts as a means to catalyze life-affirming skills in diverse groups of people, allowing them to realize their unique potential to improve society.

While Torluemke’s work in many ways is anchored by a firm sense of place, including the rich cultural diversity of his life-long home, his aesthetic transcends the concrete and allows for a fully developed voice within the context of his concern for truth and expressions of deep emotion, feeling and spirituality.  At the heart of Torluemke’s work is a yearning to understand and improve the human condition while coming to a greater understanding of humanity’s true place in the universe.

Torluemke works prolifically in a variety of media, including mural painting, stage design, mosaics, oil and acrylic painting, watercolor and sculpture. Solo and group exhibition highlights include: “After Glow” at The Chicago Cultural Center; “The Inland See: Contemporary Art Around Lake Michigan,” curated by James Yood; “Critic’s Choice” at Jan Cicero Gallery in Chicago; “Present” at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; “In the Company of Strangers” at the Brauer Museum of Art, Valparaiso, Indiana; “Bounce” at the South Bend Regional Museum of art in South Bend, Indiana; “Peace in the Arts” Baíhai International Peace Conference in San Francisco; the Alabama Watercolor Society Exhibition at the Birmingham Museum of Art; and the “In Indiana” series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

In 2007, Torluemke was named a recipient of the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship (Central Indiana Community Foundation) for the period of April 2007 – April 2008 and a winner of the Great Ideas Competition of the Arts Council of Indianapolis. His project “Light The Way” was completed in December 2008. Three large-scale commissions in the city of Indianapolis are testament to the relevance and scope of his ideas, and his ability to present them in a meaningful context within
their communities: In 2006, Torluemke was commissioned to create two 1,000-square- foot terrazzo floor designs for the redesigned Indianapolis International Airport, which opened in 2008. Torluemke’s epic mural at the main branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, reviving a rich tradition in the spirit of the public works projects of the WPA era, was unveiled in April 2009 in the Nina Mason Pulliam Special Collections Room on the sixth floor of the Central Library.

Looking outward and inward in tandem, Torluemke’s work transcends boundaries of race, class and gender, as he makes art as a collaborator in the diverse communities of Indiana and Chicago’s steel belt, his individual work often directly faces personal or socio-political concerns. “I try not to concern myself with categories, descriptions or rules when viewing or making visual art,” Torluemke says. “I feel this makes the work honest, flexible and hopefully fuller.”

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March 10, 2010 at 7:07 am