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Press, Studio, Process & Miscellany

"Adjacent" [Artist's proposal: digital rendering.]

Davin Ebanks’ interpretation of an iconic Caymanian symbol, the catboat, is the winner of National Gallery’s Cayman sculpture competition. The sculpture is set to be installed in front of the National Gallery, off Esterley Tibbetts Highway, on July 1.

The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands is thrilled to announce the winner of the Public Art Sculpture Competition hosted in partnership with Water Authority Cayman. First place was awarded to Mr Davin Ebanks for his piece entitled Adjacent, a 10 ft contemporary minimalist sculpture made out of glass and onyx-stained concrete.

Cayman 27: Gallery Announces Sculpture Winner

WATCH INTERVIEW HERE.

 

Portrait of the Artist: Redaction: 13.05.15, Pterois volitans (detail) [Blown and Hot Sculpted Glass, Stainless, Aluminium, 18"H x 8"W x 8"D, 2013.]

Contemporary Glass Art

Starting a new direction you never know if it will yield fruit, and often the work you find rewarding, the work you enjoy is not what gets recognized. Having the new work validated reinforced that it is on a positive trajectory, that there is something there worth pursuing… or not. It’s too soon to tell.

The new self-portrait series received recognition at Indiana University Kokomo Art Gallery. Portrait of the Artist: Redaction: 13.05.15, Pterois volitans garnered 3rd Prize in a field of 28 contemporary glass artists. The initial pool was even larger, with some 150 applications received from artists in six states. This is the first year the Indiana Glass Artist Alliance has opened their annual show to artists outside Indiana.

GATHERING: Contemporary Glass from the Heartland is on display until December 7, 2013 at:

Indiana University Kokomo Art Gallery
2300 South Washington Street,
Kokomo, IN. 46902.

Free parking is available on campus. Gallery hours are Tue. and Thu., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Wed., 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.; and Sat., noon – 4 p.m. 765-455-9523 All times are EST.

In conjunction with Art Prize, the Grand Rapids Public Museum will “curate a rewarding experience with great, approachable art that is intriguing, distinctive and engages the viewer’s capacity for awe.”

This is the first exhibition for the one-and-a-half ton sculpture, which took more than a year to design and fabricate. Made from 50 pieces of hot-cast recycled glass and designed for outdoor exhibition, Durow’s sculpture juxtaposes a form and material that is visually light but physically dense.

The work is on display through October 12.

Davin Ebanks new work at Wilson Galleries:
September 4 – 28, 2012.

Two of Davin Ebanks latest pieces will be on display in the coming weeks at a competitive juried exhibition showcasing the best of emerging and established Indiana glass artists. This limited exhibition encourages the appreciation of glass as a contemporary artform [‘medium’, possibly]. Sponsored by the Indiana Glass Arts Alliance (IGAA), a non-profit organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana, the exhibit has been co-juried by John Miller, Head of the Glass Department at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal and Duane Reed of Duane Reed Galleries.

Opening Lecture: Sept. 8, 2012, 3 – 3:30 p.m.
Opening Reception: Sept. 8, 2012, 3:30 – 5 p.m.
Opening Demonstration: Sept. 8, 2012, 5 – 6 p.m.

On display will be a wide range of glass pieces. Ben Johnson, the first graduate of the M.F.A. Glass Program at Ball State University, is in evidence (even though his solo M.F.A. Thesis Exhibition is opening a few days before). Arlon Bayliss, head of the Glass Program at Anderson University has an intriguing piece that combines intricate text with the gestural fluidity of hot-worked glass.

Lecture and demonstration by juror John Miller.
Admission is free.

 

Hot-sculpted Glass, Tree, Earth -- Memento Mori: Plumeria Wraith (detail) [30"H x 27"W x 27"D, 2012.]

NeoNatural: Botanically Inspired Glass

Hot sculpted glass installation at the Garfield Conservatory
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.


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On display January 21 – March 18, 2012, the hot sculpted glass flowers in this installation are models of plumeria, the traditional flower of Hawaiian leis and one almost exclusively planted in the cemeteries of my homeland. The flower has a long history of symbolism that crosses many cultural boundaries. It is used to commemorate significant events, as a sign of welcome and to both memorialize the dead and provide a symbol of eternal life.

This piece was inspired by the transplanted nature of the species in this conservatory. Many of these plants have been there for decades. However, since many are tropical species they could not survive even a single Indiana winter without the protection of the 100-year old greenhouse.

There seemed a rich furrow here, a wealth of metaphor and interpretation. Consider the title. For me the word wraith suggests wreath, which, at its root, refers to a twisted thing. Here we have the use of a “fake” exotic flower to mark the life/death of living exotic plant—a lei of crystal flowers around a living tree. It is a beautiful reminder of mortality in a place dedicated to a conservation of species.

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The demands of exhibiting in an unconventional setting creates an interesting visual problem. Sculpture that might do well in the sterile cube of the white-walled gallery can get lost or strike an incongruous note when installed in situ. Even more challenging was the driving concept behind this group exhibition—“botanically inspired glass”.

Unless very well executed, work that is too representational suffers when displayed alongside nature, which (for all it’s mundane and banal character) easily achieves a depth of detail and exuberance of form envied and copied by artists for millennia.

This has always been the issue with the glass installations that Chihuly has arranged in various botanical gardens and arboreta—as popular as they admittedly are. The work seems mere spectacle, and it can be argued that it makes a mockery of its setting by trying to upstage it. Glass seems the perfect material to outdo the flamboyance of natural color and form. However, there is something insidious about spectacle: it can simultaneously excite interest while dulling intellectual curiosity. Witness the phenomena of Hollywood summer blockbusters.

The unspoken challenge inherent in NeoNatural was to work with the “natural” surroundings in an honest manner that would create a moment of pause along the damp, shaded paths of the arboretum, to neither upstage nor dismiss the surrounding species but to focus them more clearly by initiation of a visual dialogue between artwork and environment.

Upon reflection, hasn’t this always been one of the goals of art?

Modern Reliquary, Zooplankton Study #2 (detail) [Hot-sculpted, cased & blown Glass]

Hot Sculpted Glass Studies


Modern Reliquary, Zooplankton Study #2 [Hot-sculpted, cased & blown Glass]Modern Reliquary, Zooplankton Study #2 (detail) [Hot-sculpted, cased & blown Glass]Modern Reliquary, Zooplankton Study #3 [Hot-sculpted, cased & blown Glass]

The Models for Modern Reliquaries are sketches on the themes of containment and preservation. Borrowing from imagery of zoo-plankton—amphipodes, copepods, and miscellaneous larvae—I enlarged these creatures and set them in an impermeable, archival material.

This was frankly also somewhat of a technical exercise; hot sculpted glass elements were cased in liquid glass and then I shaped the resulting mass to a bottle form without distorting the object inside. For a final touch I used a very traditional glass-working technique, inclamo, to join a blown neck and complete the illusion of a bottle filled with liquid.

The notion of preserving something, of sealing it off from the rest of the world in a container is a prevalent theme in many artworks, particularly those that borrow from scientific processes, modes, and apparatus. Containment has a two-fold importance: it physically separates us from whatever is being contained and it implies the need to protect it, suggesting its importance. The Mona Lisa is not only cordoned off but placed behind bullet-proof glass. Specimens are hermetically sealed inside glass jars. And bits of bone, hair, cloth and wood are set in reliquaries and presented as holy things. Containers, particularly glass ones, both present objects for display and inadvertently distort them. We are seeing the thing without really seeing it.

Waterline: Eastern Passage [Blown & Hot-worked Glass, Wood, Steel, 16"H x 96"W x 13"D, 2003.]

Davin Ebanks in “The Persistence of Memory” at NGCI


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While curating Blue Meridian with the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands’ director, Natalie Urquhart, we decided that although tangentially related, Waterline didn’t quite fit. However, the director kept it in mind and when curating The Persistence of Memory a year later she requested this piece be part of the show. I was happy to oblige. Mrs. Urquahart’s attitude toward glass sculpture is refreshing; like many contemporary artists she considers it merely another material, without bias that relegates it to a craft material rather than fitting of fine art.

On display from May 20 – August 18, 2011, at the NGCI, this piece is a great example of work that works well within the confines of a gallery or museum space. Each boat form is roughly eight feet long, so they needs a lots of clean space. This is best provided by the type of exhibit areas institutions have available.

Much rightful criticism has been leveled against the “sterile cube” of the white-walled gallery, but institutions like the NGCI provide a vital and recognized space to exhibit work that would otherwise be unfeasible (or at the very least unreasonable).

Waterline: Eastern & Western Passages [Blown & Hot Sculpted Glass, Wood, Steel, 16"H x 198"W x 13"D, 2003.]Waterline: Western Passage (detail) [Blown & Hot-worked Glass, Wood, Steel, 2003.]Waterline: Eastern Passage [Hot Sculpted Glass, Wood, Steel, 16"H x 96"W x 13"D, 2003.]Waterline: Eastern Passage (detail) [Hot Sculpted Glass, Wood, Steel, 2003.]

An Artist’s Homecoming

Director Natalie Urquhart describes Blue Meridian, Davin Ebanks’ solo exhibit held at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands 2010.

 

 

 

 

As the title for the show suggests, the Blue Meridian series was much in evidence in the artist’s first major solo exhibit.

Providing a compliment to the clean, almost Minimalist nature of the solid glass castings, there are pieces like Death of the Ajax, a work that deals with a particular point in Caymanian history that saw the near extinction of the sea turtle and the eventual extinction of the Caymanian catboats used to hunt them.

Then there is The Puzzle of Pattern: Self Portrait with Fish. This piece consists of four 15×15-inch square sheets of glass ‘sand’—mounted in a grid on the wall, like three-dimensional models of exposed tidal sand flats. Mounted next to them (in a mirrored grid pattern) are four miniature glass castings, each roughly 1-inch square. Each casting is domed and polished, magnifying an image behind it. The images transition from brightly colored patterns that might belong to tropical fish (but somehow simultaneously seem to echo the patterns in the sand), to a final black and white image that appears to be a finger print. Each pattern is only slightly different from the others, so that we are left to wonder which are images of fish and which are actual finger prints.

The entire exhibition seems to be a soliloquy on what it is for the artist to be Caymanian, from his maritime heritage to his obsession with the water that surrounds home and, in the end, how he fits into it all.

Blue Meridian, sponsored by RBS Coutts, opens on Friday November 26th, 2010 and runs until February 2011 at the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands.

*Excerpt from the official NGCI website.