Some words about Tuska - The Art of Self Reflection
“A brilliant renaissance man who through
his powerful Art of the Human Condition offers
a philosophy which brings the soul forward
A story of life’s lessons which will live in our
hearts for generations to come”
Ruth Stricker Founder of the Marsh
Tuska (1931-1998) Born John Regis Tuska, to an immigrant coal miner from Slovakia, in Yukon, Pennsylvania. Raised and educated in New York and spent his career and life as an Artist Educator at the University of Kentucky. He asked that his life be shared as an educator.
Prior to his passing Tuska commissioned his son Seth, to create his working studio. Tuska Studio produces works in lifetime and limited editions in paper, ceramic, and bronze. And our signature project Illuminates, our two dimensional figure studies in wood and metals.
With an undeniable passion for the human body, mind, and spirit, the power of Tuska’s art communicates a passion and longing for clarity and the understanding of life and everything around it.
At the core of every being is its energy. The Chi. The life force. Tuska’s infusion of this into his work allows the viewer to draw very real connections to their own body on both the spiritual and physical planes and place a significance on their own health and well-being.
Autobiography: Anatomy lesson I “Perfectly Imperfect”
In the beginning of Tuska’s career he stands at his easel, looks at himself in the mirror and takes his “energy source” for the doors to open and the discoveries to be made. While trained as a ceramist and potter, the drawing became his diary. His studies and influences took him into process and techniques with works in ceramic, paper, bronze and may other mediums. As he would always say, “what if?”
With the completion of his first major work Genesis, a floor to ceiling ceramic tiled wall, in the Patterson office building at the University of Kentucky, the figure would become the emphasis of his career with his first sabbatical in Rome, Italy 1969-1970. After his return, the 70’s became his most prolific and expansive times, highlighted by his commission, Flight of Icarus at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Autobiography: Anatomy lesson II “Believing”
By his mid life, the 80’s brought Tuska continued explorations and notoriety in ceramics, drawing and bronze. He was honored to be chosen to create the bust of former US Senator John Sherman Cooper, now prominently displayed in the Kentucky State Capital in Frankfort. However, midlife also brought forward the fragility of life, with health issues in heart bypass followed by a stroke 86’ and 87’. Thanks to his own will and the nurturing of his Muse Miriam, he overcame his handicaps by working on less labor intensive processes, like stained glass and floral drawings, to regain his hand strength. By the early 90’s he would begin, what would be his final and most celebrated work, Illumine, 56 bronze poses on the façade of the fine arts building at the University of Kentucky, dedicated in 1995.
Autobiography: Anatomy lesson III “the End”
In the end, Tuska depicts his broken body unable to work. His wife of 40 years died in the middle of 1996 and Tuska passed 20 months later, after suffering a career ending broken dominant arm. These three Autobiography drawings, the simplicity of his art of self reflection, document the beginning, middle, and end. While all three were drawn at the beginning in 1964, they parallel his life and human condition, including depicting the stroke and broken arm in lesson III.
As Tuska said, “You reach for stars, moons, and planets, which you may never see or never reach, but OK! What an experience to ride one’s life through! The doors that open, the visions that evolve, are not final, but layers that open into future possibilities. Life’s variety has no conclusion, it keeps unraveling. We reach the center: the sight of what is and what might be!”
Reflect upon yourself. Where have you been, where are you now, and where are you going? Find your center in The Art of self reflection.