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Austin Ballard

Page 1 | Biography

Austin Ballard’s practice generates a space in which to understand and question our heavily designed lived environments before merging them with those objects and places that appear uncategorized, unstable and inhospitable. Serving as an intersection of man-made architecture and the natural landscape, his sculptures draw comparisons to these settings through writhing forms and faceted planes. Each sculpture balances their respective elements, while also carefully balancing the various references and connotations of their materials. Ballard’s studio environment is split between the wood shop and foundry where, calculated cuts, joints and welds are made, to the ceramic studio where much looser, more intuitive vessels are created out of clay. Recalling imagery of writhing coral, South Western Hoodoos or a Chinese Scholar’s rock, the hand coiled ceramic vessels are both patiently and intuitively constructed, before being ground down in order to create a brutally eroded form. In this way, he is mirroring in hours what takes the earth thousands of years to erode naturally. By combining differing surfaces, textures and processes his work begins to compress various time signatures. This attempt at flattening creates mistrust for the viewer in both materiality and authenticity. While Ballard’s objects may appear frozen, like snapshots of imminent shifts or improbable couplings, further investment signals a conscious engineering and laborious construction. His work is not about defying gravity, but rather employing it. Using the language of the functional, i.e. modern furniture, every aligned side, notched end or butt joint eventually serves as a marker for the seemingly haphazard arrangement of forms, signifying its approved and final resting place within the rest of the sculpture. His intentional misuse of visual language, craftsmanship and engineering, gives a nod to these rich traditions while poking at them, flipping them on their head, and ultimately subverting their lineage.

AUSTIN BALLARD (b. 1987, United States) received his MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and his BFA from University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he also served as an assistant professor. Ballard has received numerous grants and awards including a Joan Mitchell Foundation Sculpture Scholarship, the Dan Bown Project Award, Jeanne Stahl-Webber Sculpture Scholarship, Rhode Island School of Design Graduate Studies Grant, the Attilio and Emma Della Biancia Scholarship and a 2014 Windgate Fellowship. He has received coverage for his work in the Providence Journal, the Charlotte Observer, ArtCat, Flux-Boston, Field Projects, and LVL3. He has been awarded full fellowships to Sculpture Space, Ox-Bow School of Art, Vermont Studio Center, Wassaic Project, Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and the McColl Center for Art + Innovation. Ballard has exhibited in over 30 group exhibitions including receiving the Grand Prize at the 2012 Boston Young Contemporaries exhibit at Boston University. Previous solo exhibitions include, The Shadow of the Palm is Deep at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT (2013), The Indivisibles at Napoleon in Philadelphia, PA (2013), and Phase of the Devout at Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY (2012). Ballard is featured in private collections throughout the US and the UK.

Austin Ballard
Durham, NC
North Carolina
North America


Web Links
Beers Contemporary, London
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