McKenzie Fine Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent sculptures by Austin Ballard. This is the Ridgewood-based artist’s first solo outing with the gallery. Previously the artist’s work was shown in the gallery’s 2023 group exhibition, Step by Step.

Austin Ballard’s sculptures are constructed using woven caning derived from the rattan palm. Narrow slabs of colored epoxy clay are laid down on the caning and then extruded through the natural webbing of the rattan, creating an overall patterning that enlivens the surfaces with a textile character. The rattan is cut into organic shapes and pieced together incrementally without the use of an interior mold. The resultant torquing, curving, and arcing sculptures reference the body, talismans, and forms from nature such as augmented scholars' rocks. Inventive, idiosyncratic, and often uncanny, Ballard’s sculptures appear to be in a state of perennial growth.

The exhibition features works from several series. The “Dappled Dunes” and “Descendant” sculptures appear as if the caning were draped or stitched over an internal armature, belying their hollow state. The forms appear to swell and gently twist and sway. In the “Perforator” sculptures, a quality of weightlessness is conveyed, as if the forms have been tossed into the air. Openings in the sculptures bloom and blossom, revealing their inner lining of patterned epoxy clay. The exhibition also includes a wall-mounted sculpture in which negative space acts as an important component of the overlapping layers of caning and clay. Pedestals created for the works in the show were inspired by Korean Chaekgeori shelving, sacred altars, and temporary product display; each is topped with a thin slab of clay mimicking vermiculated stone, natural pumice, or colorful stucco.

Austin Ballard was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He received an MFA in Sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design and holds a BFA from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where he also served as an Assistant Professor in Textiles. Ballard has been the recipient of awards and fellowships from numerous organizations including the Joan Mitchell Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, New York’s Museum of Art and Design, and the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. For the past twelve years, he has exhibited his work in group, two-person, and solo exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States and in the UK. Ballard’s work has been reviewed in Artnews, Wall Street International, and the New York Sun, and has been featured in Maake and Art Maze magazines, among others.