Davin Ebanks in Full Spectrum at the Pittsburgh Glass Center
Davin Ebanks, assistant professor of glass and M.F.A. alumnus, has been selected for the group exhibition "Full Spectrum: Visionaries Elevating Art, Craft, and Design" on view at the Pittsburgh Glass Center through May 23, 2022. The exhibition, curated by Corey Pemberton, Nisha Blackwell and April Felipe, showcases visionary makers of color from around the country who are producing extraordinary craft objects, while illustrating the vast number of pathways to a successful and meaningful career. Artists included in the exhibition are Natalia Arbelaez, Ana Armengod, N.E. Brown, Eunsuh Choi, Tanya Crane, Davin Ebanks, LaVerne Kemp, Nikki Lau, Hai-Wen Lin, Jason McDonald, Cedric Mitchell, Eun-Ha Paek, SaraBeth Post, Rell Rushin, Bre'Annah Stampley, Kimberly Thomas, Leo Tecosky and Arthur Wilson.
Ebanks has several artworks included in the exhibition, which includes the five wall-mounted pieces pictured above.
My sculptures are metaphors for the subjective nature of identity and personal narrative. I use everyday elements from my island culture—ripe bananas, ocean water, etc.—and by translating these subjects into glass they are elevated from the mundane to the aesthetic.
Recently I’ve been thinking about bodies, Black bodies moving through blue spaces. For me the “Passages” triptych is a deconstructed voyage: clouds, sky, water, bodies, cargo. As a Caymanian-American my racial identity is linked to Black people who didn’t make it all the way across the Atlantic, a people left stranded in the blue space of the Caribbean. Cotton grew wild in the empty fields behind our yards. There’s only one reason it was planted and only one group of people who farmed it. The idea of transporting produce and commodities became a metaphor for the transportation of bodies through the blue space between places—from the transatlantic slave trade, to trade wars, to our current refugee crises.
Bananas and cotton are fraught with cultural and political significance. The banana also has a long history as an artistic subject. In my homeland of Cayman the local bananas are poor peoples’ food, grown in many backyards. On the other hand, the cultivated, store-bought banana is symbol of colonialism and monoculture. Baskets of glass fruit adorned the sitting rooms of many working-class families during my childhood. This trope is an act of preservation that negates usefulness, or perhaps reframes what usefulness means. This translation mirrors how these objects have been transformed, forcing them to oscillate between the familiar and the foreign.
Images (left to right): "Passage: Blanco" (“Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads, / Great,hollow, bell-like flowers / Rumbling in the wind...”), [Excerpt: Storm Ending, Jean Toomer], Cast Glass, 24H x 9W x 3D inches, 2021
"Passage: Azul" (“It’s air / ceaseless wind, water and sand.”), [Excerpt: The Sea, Pablo Neruda], Kilnformed Glass, 24H x 9W x 1D inches, 2021
"Passage: Negro" (“can we find light in the never ending shade? / The loss we carry, / a sea we must wade.”), [Excerpt: The Hill We Climb, Amanda Gorman], Cast Glass, 24H x 9W x 4D inches, 2021
"Untitled Black" (“Some I love who are dead / were watchers of the moon and knew its lore; / …Pierced their ears for gold hoop earrings / as it waxed or waned.”), [Excerpt: Full Moon, Robert Hayden], Kiln-formed (Thermoformed) Glass, 22K Gold, 24H x 24W x 5D, inches, 2021
"Untitled Blue" (“Do not drown me now: / I see the island / still ahead somehow”), [Excerpt: Island, Langston Hughes], Kiln-formed (Thermoformed) Glass , 24H x 24W x 5D, inches, 2020