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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.

“Blue Meridian: 81.2ºW, Old Isaac’s”
Cast, Blasted & Polished Glass
36”H x 15”W x 4”D
2009

The Blue Meridian series was inspired by the water around my homeland, the Cayman Islands. Specificity is important, specificity of color. To the average person, water is water, but to an islander, the color of the water relays information—depth, marine floor composition, salinity, resident species.
Since the “water” has been transplanted to the gallery floor, it was important to me to anchor each artwork to its referent. Each location is referenced by the longitudinal coordinates in the title, underscoring their displaced nature. This invites the viewer to imagine water from places they have been—perhaps a cruise or childhood vacation.

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.

“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, Gold
24H x 24W x 5D, inches
2021

I love this title and how it alludes to the way native/indigenous peoples lived with the earth and the seasons. The old folks back home (great-grandfather, etc) did everything by the moon, and more specifically by the tides. They planted by the tides. Fished by the tides. Cut wood for their boats by the tides. Hunted by the tides. The moon and respiration of the planet was part of the rhythm of their lives.

I’m also reminded of all the nights I spent on the water under a full moon, gazing up at the sky as my fishing line descended into the darkness below. Duality. Light. Darkness. Both the unknown.

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.

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 @amandascgorman]
Cast Glass
24H x 9W x 4D inches
2021
“Blanc: Void Variant No. 2”, Cast, Silvered & Laminated Glass. 2017. –
When the wind is southerly, I know…”, Gold on Glass, 12 in. each panel, 2019 –
“Waterline”, Blown, Hot-sculpted & Metalized Glass, Wood, Steel 200 x 13 x 18 inches, 2003. 
“And occasionally from out of this matter…” (Self-Portrait with Frangipani)
Blown, Hot-sculpted & Sand-carved Glass
[Kerry & Betty C. Davis Collection]
(Photo: @jamiehahnstudio )
Self Portrait with Bananas Blown, Hot-sculpted, Sand-blasted & Silvered Glass, Steel 18″H x 8″W x 8″D 2020

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