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Press, Studio, Process & Miscellany

Neo-Global: A House for Show Card: Mr. Biswas, Pop-Up Exhibit

Davin Ebanks and Kaitlyne Elphinstone will represent Cayman at a multi-national Caribbean exhibit that opens during Miami’s Art Week. The “Pop-Up” exhibition has been curated by Rachael Barrett, the Founder of _space caribbean, a Caribbean-based NGO that advocates for advancement in arts education and culture as a tool for socio-economic growth.

*V.S. Naipaul’s novel—A House for Mr. Biswas—introduced a post-colonial, pre-independence Trinidad to the world, with vivid cast of characters whose frustrations, alienations, identity crises, longing, displacement, social adjustment, new conscious, dependence and otherness are as relevant in 2016 as there were in 1961.

Today’s Caribbean is still a place of contrasts. The young are increasingly global in their consumption and outlook as international borders (despite remaining rigid in physical practice) are increasingly invisible in the digital landscape.

Splitting time across borders has become especially typical of—and almost an essential means of survival for—academics, writers and artists. But the sense of displacement that this once cause for Naipaul’s generation has diminished somewhat. Being abroad does not have to limit one’s engagement with th local community or infringe on the sense of identity as it did before. Just as those who return are not necessarily immediately seen as bringing new information and ideas that were out of reach.

*Excerpt from prospectus for A House for Mr. Biswas.

Davin Ebanks & Kaitlyne Elphinstone: NeoGlobal Exhibit, MiamiNeoGlobal: A House for Mr. Biswas, ExhibitNeoGlobal: A House for Mr. Biswas, ExhibitGold-Chain Basket: NeoGlobal: A House for Mr. Biswas, ExhibitNeoGlobal: A House for Mr. Biswas, ExhibitNeoGlobal: A House for Mr. Biswas, Exhibit

IGAA 2016 Gathering, Contemporary Glass from the Heartland, promotional image

Ebanks wins 2nd Place at GATHERING: Contemporary Glass from the Heartland, with one of his recent granularé blown-glass sculptures: Luminous Form: Pink Champagne & Lace. Gathering is a juried exhibit showcasing the best of emerging and established glass artists from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Wisconsin—the heartland of America. This year’s exhibition includes 63 works of art by 31 artists. Various glass techniques are represented: cast, laminated, blown, etched, engraved, neon, mosaic, fused, kiln-formed, lampworked and glass in mixed media.

The artist was unable to attend the opening, but responded to his award:

“Thanks to the juror(s) for this honor. The Indiana Glass Arts Alliance does essential work to promote local glass artists and exhibits of this nature need all our support and subscription. Their decision to expand the field and open the Annual IGAA Exhibit to the region was one of foresight and courage. I applaud this move, especially as it keeps connected those of us that got our start in glass in the heartland of America… no matter where we are in the world today. I look forward to applying to many more ‘Gatherings’ in the future.”

EXHIBITION DATES:
September 27 – October 28, 2016

EXHIBITION LOCATION
Atrium Gallery
College of Fine Arts, Ball State University
Art and Journalism Building, Room 101
1101 North McKinley Avenue
Muncie, IN 47306
Phone: 765.285.5838

GALLERY HOURS
Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm EDT
Saturday, 1pm-4pm EDT
Closed Sundays & all holidays and breaks observed by Ball State University

JURORS
Jeff Ballard & Carmen Lozar

SPONSORS
Indiana Glass Arts Alliance, Ball State University School of Art, Goezler Investment Management

Open to the public

The Cayman National Cultural Foundation is set to launch the 22nd National Arts and Culture Awards ceremony, which will be held during Cayfest ’16 on Thursday, 25 February. Davin will be recognized for his significant accomplishments and dedication over the past decade to the field of creativity in the Arts and “exploration, promotion or preservation of Caymanian cultural heritage”.

This award is a complete surprise, but I am extremely pleased that recent work within the artistic community of Cayman—in particular recent projects such as Adjacent, the permanent sculpture that marks the entrance to the National Gallery—has gained enough notice to warrant such an honour.

History of exhibits in Cayman:

  • National McCoy Prize Exhibition: Cayman National Museum, 2003.
    Juried annual exhibition showcasing best Caymanian art and fine craft.
  • Blue Meridian: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2010.
    Solo show translating the artists’ personal and cultural history into sculptures of glass and porcelain.
  • The Persistence of Memory: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2011.
    Invitational exhibit featuring Caymanian artists whose work deals with issues of memory.
  • Ceramic Art: From the Fifteenth Century to the Contemporary: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2014.
  • Public Art Sculpture: “Adjacent”: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2014.
    Unveiling of permanent cast-glass and concrete sculpture.
  • Luminescent Forms: Art Under the Microscope: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2015.
    Two-person show combining large-scale photos of foraminifera by engineer Roland Vereet with glass sculptures by Davin Ebanks.
  • tIDal shift: Explorations of Identity in Contemporary Caymanian Art: National Gallery of the Cayman Islands, 2015.
    Juried invitational exhibit exploring themes of identity in Caymanian art.
Luminescent Forms: Art Under the Microscope

Art & Science on view Feb. 6 – Apr. 17, 2015

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGCI) new exhibition bridges the gap between art and science by illuminating minuscule organic forms called foraminifera that can be found in the sand beneath our feet. Luminescent Forms: Art Under the Microscope features a series of these tiny single-celled organisms that have been beautifully magnified and photographed by German engineer Roland Verreet, and reimagined in glass by Caymanian artist Davin Ebanks.

Mr. Verreet has studied samples of forams from around the world, including the Cayman Islands, where he was introduced to National Gallery director and curator Natalie Urquhart, who was immediately taken with their remarkable beauty and symmetry.“An exhibition of forams, displayed in large format, was an intriguing concept,” she explains. “Rather than being artwork inspired by the beauty of our natural environment, these images celebrate nature itself as a work of art.”

Seen under the microscope the glowing forms literally appear as though sculpted in glass which led Mrs. Urquhart to take the exhibition idea a stage further, inviting Caymanian artist and glass sculptor, Davin Ebanks, to reimagine the forams as blown and cast glass sculptures. For Luminescent Forms, he has created a new series of sculptural glass forms, drawing on the anthropomorphic shapes of the foraminifera.

Luminescent Forms: Art Under the Microscope, opens on Friday 6 February, 2015 and runs until 17 April. Admission to the exhibition is free and tours can be booked directly with the NGCI Education Department via education@nationalgallery.org.ky. For more information about the exhibition and the upcoming programme of events contact info@nationalgallery.org.ky or call (345) 945 8111. [Read more here…]

21st Century Glass looks at the future of the medium as artists move away from technique-driven work into a more modern approach to the material.

Maryland’s Salisbury University Galleries will present an exhibition of glass artworks by a diverse roster of noteworthy artists, reflecting the expanded nature of contemporary sculptural glass art. Glass, as a medium, is undergoing a sea change. What started as a bohemian enterprise in the garage of the Toledo museum of art in 1962 turned into a cultural force by the early 1990’s. Artists like Dale Chihuly and the strong influence of Venetian glassworking techniques set the tone for the Studio Glass Movement for more than three decades. The early spirit of experimentation and a devil-may-care attitude toward process gave way to an emphasis on bright colors, skillful execution, and mastery of increasingly complicated techniques. However it is evident that momentum for a new paradigm is building… LINK: Read full press release here.

Davin Ebanks was honoured to be one of the artists invited to participate in this groundbreaking show. Two of his new self-portrait series were included. Ebanks had this to say:

I think this is a fairly unique show in the context of “glass art”. I mean, it is only now that the use of the material and breadth of artistic endeavor has been rich enough to support such an invitational exhibit. Most juried shows are a combination of exquisite technical pieces, conceptual work and mere spectacle. But the quality of the work now is such that a curator like Durow can hand pick a group of artists and install a show that really displays the richness of artistic glass practice at this moment in time.

Exhibit runs to Feb 19th, 2015 at Salisbury University Art Galleries.


21st Century Glass Artists List 21st Century Glass Installation View #1 21st Century Glass Installation View #2Portrait of the Artist: 17.05.13 Pterois volitans [Blown, Sand-blasted, Mirrored, & Hot sculpted Glass, Aluminium, Wood, 18" x 20" x 10", 2013]

Davin’s piece aims to blend past and present Cayman by using a half-model form of a traditional Caymanian catboat—an iconic shape that will resonate across all members of the community—and reworking this as a minimalist concrete and glass sculpture. ~Natalie Urquart, NGCI Director

Adjacent, Davin Ebanks’ 11-foot black concrete and cast-glass sculpture representing Cayman’s iconic catboat, has been unveiled at the entrance to the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

The sculpture represents two half-models of a catboat standing upright and intersecting to symbolize the bow and the stern of the vessel—representing the connecting of the historical and contemporary cultural environments of the Cayman Islands. The 11 foot glass and concrete sculpture honours Cayman’s maritime heritage, specifically the catboat, which served as inspiration for the design. The video captures the studio process of creating the sculpture. The project was sponsored by Water Authority to commemorate the company’s 30th anniversary.

“Public art plays an important role in society and is often a forum through which to express a country’s unique iconography. Importantly, by bringing artwork ‘outside’ the traditional walls of an art museum and into the public domain, it makes the work accessible to the public at all times,” says Natalie Urquart, the National Gallery’s Director. [Full Cayman Compass article here…]


THANKS & RECOGNITION

Davin was joined for the unveiling by his collaborators Steven Durow, glass caster and Head of the Glass Department at Salisbury University in Maryland, and Nathan Weinbaum, contractor based in the Florida Keys and an expert in the use of concrete. Very special thanks to Steven for casting and cutting the glass panels and Nathan for providing a long-term solution for mounting the glass panels to the concrete forms. Thanks also to both for volunteering their time to stand in the blazing sun every day for a week during the installation of Adjacent.

Special thanks also to Emé Paschalides—the National Gallery’s liaison between artist, gallery and contractors. Without her on the ground in Cayman to organize and meet with architects, contractors, electricians, etc, there is no way the project would have been completed on time.

Thanks also to Eduardo Bernal, Principal Architect at ARCO Architectural Services, for his generous consultation and advice, particularly on aspects of safety and durability.

Kaitlyn Elphinstone for her perfect shot of Adjacent at dusk.

Finally, thanks are due to whatever forces aligned so that I was born a Westbayer to the son of a fisherman and sailor. My family’s support has never wavered; thank you.

 

Casting the Glass

This work is about the tension between the solid, volumetric forms of the catboat ‘columns’ and the lucid, patterns glass facade. The challenge was how to integrate one with the other visually and then translate that into physical glass objects that could actually be affixed to the concrete facades.

I decided early on I wanted to borrow from the patterns that have interested me in my other, more intimate glass sculptures. Although many patterns make their way into my work, I’ve always wanted to make a large expanse of glass ‘water’. Also, by one of those happy coincidences, the  pattern also referenced the sponsor for this project, the Water Authority – Cayman.

After consultation with a colleague—Steven Durow, who specializes in hot-glass casting—we decided to try press moulding the glass to achieve the surface pattern. After some experimentation and fine tuning, we settled on simple plaster press moulds, each hand-made and coated with colloidal graphite to help resist the heat.

Below are images of the process: pouring the molten glass into a simple metal mould, pressing the glass with a wooden press mould (which worked great but deteriorated much too quickly to be of practical use in making 40+ castings) and the remains of used plaster press moulds after repeated contact with 2000°F glass. After two weeks of solid work and a series of small struggles, I got to inspect the first good set of glass castings [color redacted].


Steven Durow ladling molten glass for 'Adjacent' Davin Ebanks works out the kinks with a press mould on molten glass... everything's ok. Davin with a press mould on molten glass... everything's not fine. Davin removes a press mould from molten glass... everything's going to be ok. Derelict glass press moulds: dead from the heat. The artist inspects the press-moulded glass panels—the work of a couple weeks hard labour by Steven Durow's casting team. [color redacted]


Checking for Fair

“Fairing” the Form.

Although my great-grandfather was a boat builder—having built and fished three catboats—and the desire to build boats may run in my blood, that doesn’t mean the know-how is genetic. The images below show setting up the form “stations” and fairing them. This was the most time-consuming part of the entire process. It seemed like there were 2 or 3 stations that were simply off, and made for a tortured, wavy line rather than the fair lines of a hydrodynamic hull.

I reference boat building because in essence that is exactly what I’m doing with this project. The whole process mirrors that of contemporary, one-off boatworks.

So, after a few days of head-scratching I consulted my personal boat-building guru—a man who has built 6 boats from scratch, by hand, and is in process of constructing a 43-foot wooden sailboat. Turns out the answer is simple,no matter how carefully one transcribes the curves of original model to paper, no matter how carefully you then scale those up onto the form material, no matter how carefully you follow the lines as you cut the forms, there are always tiny errors that can be introduced at each stage of the process. With so many transfers taking place the errors tend to compound themselves, turning minuscule variations into obvious lapses in form.

It tooks several days of checking, trimming, and rechecking to fair the lines of the entire form.

Basically the process of lofting a boat is thus:

  1. Carve the model.
  2. Divide model longitudinally (to create a half-model—by only copying one half of the boat and then mirroring it you ensure a symmetrical hull).
  3. Mark form station curves on half-model.
  4. Transcribe curves to graph paper.
  5. Scale up curves to final size on form material.
  6. Cut form stations and position onto stiffback.

Station #1 finally attached to the stiffback. Nearly all the stations in place. Almost ready to check for fair. Checking for fair. See the flats spot at the station 3rd from left? Checking for Fair. Notice the slight bends at Station #3 and #5

Resting after moving materials into studio.

Preparing the Studio

Luckily I was able to sub-let a nearby studio/warehouse space quickly, and only for the required three months of the project construction. With scheduled unveiling July 1st, a typical one-year lease was impractical and unnecessary. The space needed to have a roll-up door of adequate size and be on the ground floor to facilitate access by fork-lift to move the large moulds that we’ll be constructing. Preparation of the space began by installing lighting and then moving in all the requisite paraphernalia of such a construction project. Immediately I began construction of the first stiff back, the rigid framework upon which the first mold would be built, leveled and shipped. Such a form is a typical first step in much boatbuilding, which it turns out this project will have much in common with.


Steven Durow installing lighting in studio.Resting after moving materials into studio.Transcribed 'station line' and 'stiff back' framework.

Adjacent: Working Model [Wood]

The Working Model

Original maquette for Adjacent (pictured below in black) needed to be remade in a more sturdy material to be a working model. (Rough shaping model with band-saw.)

Bow model shown with form stations transcribed in 1/9th scale. (Stations 4 – 8 shown.)

Longitudinal lines from sections serve to cross reference points along the curve. (Model is held together by dowels so it can be easily disassembled to transcribe accurate longitudinal lines that intersect each station.)


Adjacent: Original Proposal Maquette [Styrofoam, Paint, Glass; 12Hx4Wx4D inches]Adjacent: Carving Working Model [Wood]Adjacent: Carving Working Model [Wood]Adjacent: Working Model and Station LinesAdjacent: Working Model, Station Lines and Longitudinal Curves