Too often we expect inspiration to come from a big place, like a scenic vista or a major life moment. However, inspiration can take form from the familiar or everyday, building up over time to the level of the profound. It can also come about through the ability of a person to look at a place or an idea from a new angle or perspective.
"Supra" by Bradley Hart and "Human Nomenclature [Looting a Bazaar for Your Own Portrait]" by Davin Ebanks at the Box Gallery in Akron's Summit Artspace display the inspiration and current research of two of the area's most active artists. These exhibits highlight the technical skills and conceptual abilities that not only set them apart, but also define them as professional artists.
Ebanks, whose show is on view in the larger Box Gallery space, works with glass. He states that he sees his sculpture as “metaphors for the subjective nature of perception … I work with some of the elements that form my personal and cultural identity: water, pattern-work, blackness and self-portraiture.” Ebanks is from the Cayman Islands and the coral patterns he uses throughout this body of work reference his homeland.
The pieces have a direct quality that help you to understand what the artist is referencing, but they also have hidden elements that change your perception of what you're seeing. The coral reef parts or sculptural elements in silver and gold that reference those reefs are used by the artist to call into question why we put certain value on things, and at the same time those precious metals provide a visual “vibration” around the work that enhances the experience.
"The sun’s going down. Or the earth’s coming up …" is a series of sculptural coral reef parts created by blowing glass into a mold. Silver glass and aluminum have been added to enhance how they look, giving a stronger, more sculptural textured surface and an iridescent quality. The piece is presented as five node-like coral parts equally spaced on a wall. While they are all similar-looking, each individual part has its own unique features such as more texture, or larger amounts of growth in one part of the coral.
These, like all of the pieces in the exhibit, are quietly meditative and invite you to look at and through and around them. The messages the artist seeks to share don’t smack you in the face, but they do converse with you in an approachable and deeply meaningful way.
Bradley Hart is a photographer and his exhibit "Supra" is in the smaller Box Gallery space. For the exhibit Hart photographed different parts of the ceiling inside Summit Artspace. If you walk through the building, especially on the top floor, you will notice that the paint is peeling. Hart states that “Supra” is a photographic essay of “what everyone who has seen the show has passed below.”
The result of this photographic investigation is a beautiful series of abstract, almost painterly images that stand alone as interesting art objects, while at the same time forcing the viewer to contemplate the area you're walking through in a different way.
"Maior" is a highly detailed image produced as a Fuji Crystal Archive print. The piece features diagonal lines with paint that looks like it has been applied in something like a gradient. Multiple layers of paint cover up structural elements that were used to build the building, and this photograph captures in black and white the way the chemical bonds between the structure and the paint have deteriorated over time.
The artist has chosen to set his photos an inch or two off the wall on metal stands, with magnets holding the photos in place. This visual choice enhances the “other”-like nature of the photos and creates more of a conceptual separation from the ceiling of the building which is the inspiration for the exhibit.
Both of these shows are fascinating in their thoughtful display and in how they challenge the viewers to stand in and look, then look again.
Contact Anderson Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.