Sunroom Project Space 2018
Sunroom Project Space 2018 | May 19–June 24, 2018
Pictured above: Austin Ballard, Rumors, 2018. Cane webbing, nonslip foam, epoxy clay and acrylic on wood armature, hand-printed wallpaper with acrylic ink. Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: John Maggiotto.
Austin Ballard constructs an immersive, domestic setting with his hand-printed wallpaper and furniture fabricated out of cane webbing and epoxy clay. Intended as functional sculptures, the forms are reminiscent of Victorian furniture and recall Wave Hill’s history as a private home. Combining contemporary technologies with handicrafts, Ballard’s work conflates innovation and tradition, man-made and natural materials, high and low art—subverting societal and cultural assumptions of gender and labor associated with weaving, as well as with contemporary art. The installation at Wave Hill also questions the relationship between domesticity and leisure in an age of constant, digital interfacing.
Having grown up in North Carolina, where the textile industry historically played a fundamental and utilitarian role, Ballard seeks ways to make art approachable and accessible. With an interest in furniture design, Ballard creates these vividly-colored sculptures out of natural materials—cane from rattan palm and armatures out of wood. He utilizes traditional techniques of textile pattern-making, cane weaving, natural dying and ceramic slab-building. Ballard pushes epoxy clay through the underside of the webbing to create a dotted, outer surface that evokes a digital reproduction, such as a landscape of pixels, screen printing or a three-dimensionally printed object. His wallpaper pattern consists of skewed layers of small, brightly colored dots. Ballard's intention is to create “seamful” works—with the artist’s hand and labor revealed—in contrast to high-end, minimal, modern furniture and commercially printed, seamlessly patterned wallpaper.
Referencing the original, 19th-century Victorian villa on the site of what is now Wave Hill’s Glyndor House, Ballard reimagines iconic furniture pieces that might have existed here in years past, such as wicker chairs by Heywood-Wakefield. They served specific purposes: the fainting chair, for instance, invited women to recline and relax, while the têté-a-têté (head-to-head) chair encouraged conversation. Ballard suggests the objects in the exhibition retain “a quirky intimacy, and offer a place for gossip and rumors to not only be shared in private, but be performed.”
Ballard has exhibited nationally and internationally at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA; Beers Contemporary, London, England; Field Projects, New York, NY; NURTUREart, Brooklyn, NY; Napoleon, Philadelphia, PA; Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT; David B. Smith Gallery, Denver, CO; and Handwerker Gallery, Ithaca, NY, among others. He earned his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Teaching Certificate from Sheridan Center at Brown University/RISD and BFA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Support for the Visual Arts Program is provided by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.