Lives and works in Ridgewood, NY
(b. 1987, American)
“As a native of North Carolina, my use of traditional craft materials is heavily influenced by its rich and complicated history in textiles, furniture and physical labor. Through an understanding of historically domesticated materials, I am drawn toward processes and technologies that were not created for art sake, but for utility and livelihood. However as digital technologies become integrated in our daily lives, my objects and installations question our relationship to virtual imaging through traditionally lo-fi materials.”
As an object maker, my work often conflates innovation and tradition, man-made and natural materials, high and low art—subverting societal and cultural values of labor associated with handicrafts. Raised in North Carolina, where the textile industry historically played a fundamental and utilitarian role, I have a vested interest in making art accessible. Utilizing traditional techniques of textile pattern-making, natural dying and ceramic slab-building to create seamful works. Shifting between traditional sculpture and functional design, my graphically patterned surfaces adorn objects both familiar and surreal. I am interested in collaborating with these craft-rich materials in ways that not only complicate our relationship to their materiality, but their conventions.
Through a combination of vernacular craft materials and functional design, my sculptures display an affection for the handmade while suggesting that more mysterious factors are at play. Although constructed from woven rattan, in the “Dappled Dunes” series, the votive sculptures clone digital effects to suggest an artificial engineering. Where the extruded dots and dyed surfaces have more in common with the pixels in a JPEG or the gradient on a computer screen. Similarly, in the “Where do you Stay?” series, pleated, draped and piled lampshades are transformed into cascading chandeliers that fill the room like delicate lacy bodies.
Over the past few years furniture has become a central focus in my work for its ability to embody space, identity, memory and domestic life. These objects are more than functional, they serve as surrogates for the human body, reflecting lived experiences and untold stories.
- Austin Ballard received an MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he also served as an Assistant Professor in Textiles.
- Ballard has received numerous awards including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Sculpture Scholarship, Windgate Foundation Fellowship, Kenneth Stubbs Endowed Fellowship and the Rhode Island School of Design Graduate Studies Grant.
- Ballard has been awarded fellowships to the Museum of Arts and Design, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Ox-Bow School of Art, Vermont Studio Center, Wassaic Project, McColl Center for Art + Innovation and the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.
- He has been published in ArtMaze Magazine, Maake Magazine, The Wall Street International, and WideWalls.
- Ballard has held solo exhibitions at Smack Mellon, NY, Wave Hill, NY, Napoleon, PA, Real Art Ways, CT, and Ithaca College among others.
PRESS + MEDIA
Austin Ballard: Artist in Residence 2016
[Museum of Arts and Design]
Artist of the Week: Austin Ballard