My sculptures are metaphors for the subjective nature of identity and personal narrative. I use everyday elements from the island culture where I was raised—ripe bananas, woven baskets, ocean water, etc.—and by translating these subjects into glass they are elevated from the mundane to the aesthetic.
The color blue has been important to my work for a while, but specifically as representative of water from the coastline of Grand Cayman. For this new body of work, I pointedly researched the metaphorical and historical relevance of blue. Although still referential, the pieces are more suggestive of open space (water and sky) or as liminal space where they meet. This is the blue seen through the open window or porthole: everywhere, yet nowhere.
Recently I’ve been thinking about bodies moving through blue spaces. 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. 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 the objects in this show have been transformed, forcing them to oscillate between the familiar and the foreign.
Davin Ebanks is a Caymanian sculptor who primarily utilizes glass to explore his personal and cultural history and examine the relationship between identity and environment. Included in his wide-ranging international exhibition record Davin has shown at SOFA Chicago and CONTEXT Art Miami during Art Basel week. He is a recipient of the Silver Heritage Star from the Cayman National Cultural Foundation for his contributions to creativity in the Arts. His glass sculptures are in the collection of His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, The Kerry & C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art and the National Gallery of the Cayman Islands. His large-scale glass and concrete sculpture, Adjacent, permanently marks the entrance to the NGCI. In 2019 Davin’s work was published in A-Z of Caribbean Art. He is currently Assistant Professor (Head) of the Glass Program at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, USA.
Gallery Video of Davin Ebank’s Exhibition Nowhere is Blue
Untitled Blue: (“Do not drown me now: I see the island still ahead somehow”) Kiln-formed Glass 23 inches dia. 2020
Self Portrait with Bananas Blown, Hot-sculpted, Sand-blasted & Silvered Glass, Steel 18"H x 8"W x 8"D 2020