Kenyon Class of ’14, Studio Art major
It is impossible for me to let go of my past in my creation of art. The two are inextricably linked. Every thing I love, everything I loathe, and every facet of my being cultures how I interact with my work. My creative process is primarily influenced by my upbringing and the lessons I learned through years of mechanical and manual instruction in the shadow of my father and uncles, all of whom exceptionally proficient in carpentry, woodworking, automobiles, and engineering. This sentiment, paired with lessons I learned as a bicycle mechanic, informs the standard to which I create my work. I can appreciate an object or work of art simply for its form, but I find great beauty in functionality.
I have always been interested in architecture, but only recently have I explored it as a vehicle for art. In the way that I find the bicycle to be a noble creation, I also consider architecture an honorable craft. To be a successful architect, one must consider the wellbeing of people, and to be great, one must also create a space that is beautiful. My respect for architecture, coupled with the prominence of my past and memory in the execution of my art, is the basis for my present body of work.
I do not have photos of my childhood home, but I remember it vividly. I have long wondered how the mind collects, digests, and projects man-made space, both in conscious and subconscious states. When I try to visualize just how I recall the house I was raised in, I sometimes envision the folding and unfolding of origami, like the undoing of a paper crane into its undisturbed planar form. While playful and routed purely in my imagination, the exploration of these speculations led me to consider how we recall and navigate space and structure in our conscious lives, and furthermore, in what way we generate space in our subconscious and dreams.
A series of five sculptures, representing abstractions of my childhood home, serve as my attempt to illuminate these ponderings. I began working by drawing ground plans of 289 Osborn Street from memory, eyeballing its dimensions, and allowing my mind to organically abstract its structure. I cut, folded and warped these plans, further abstracting them, and created dynamic shapes that I then replicated in conventional building materials, such as plywood, drywall, pine studs, and particle board.
Each sculpture is composed of these shapes, which represent just fragments of their true forms as I imagine them to be compressed and contained in my mind. The idea of the brain constructing physical space from memory is represented in each sculpture’s ability to be modulated and change form through physical interaction with the viewer and the aid of hinges and pivots. The lifting of a plane, or the pushing of a beam causes the sculpture to change, as if it is being conjured from the depths of the mind in that very moment. The physical contact of the viewer is important to me. My sculptures represent a space I once existed within, and much like a bicycle, my physical interaction with that space is what makes it so important to me. I utilize the colors of my childhood home throughout each piece, and use lighting and painted false shadows to distort the form to an even greater extent.
Architecture is essential in our lives beyond protecting us from the elements, it has been shown to be hugely impactful on the human mind, and communicates with us much in the same way that perceived forms of contemporary art do; it is a response to the machinations and energy of the contemporary world. To me, my sculptures represent a dreamscape; they are neither accurate nor a misrepresentation. They don’t make sense as inhabitable spaces, but they possess a certain order. Even in their mutated state, they obey laws that are cerebrally routed.
— Samuel Colton Ebert, ‘14