Davin K. Ebanks is a Caymanian artist and sculptor. The color blue is central to his work, but specifically as representative of water from the coastline of Grand Cayman. Primarily using glass to explore his personal and cultural history and examine the relationship between identity and environment. Caribeart has the pleasure to introduce Ebanks for its latest artist series.
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.
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.