2nd Year Reviews: Ben Yacavone by Mary Skrenta

Ben Yacavone is currently creating sculptural forms that interact with architecture and space using household construction materials. Ben has recently moved from creating planked structures that were an extension or interruption of an interior space to linear pieces constructed out of 2×4’s that are almost whimsical. Areas of the beams have been kerf cut so that the wood bends unnaturally. Some ends are positioned over areas that reflect brightly painted end caps on the white surface below. The bare wood objects seem playful, recalling memories of wooden kinetic children’s toys. This is accentuated with the day-glow bright end caps. These reflections appear glowing neon, and these luminous areas become focal points that exude an otherworldly, science-fiction alien feel.

These works are large yet thin. While at first I am intrigued by the scale, and would think this kind of exaggeration could be interesting, the thinness of the pieces makes them somehow unimportant. Perhaps over time, a constant exposure to the work might turn this around and be an appealing aspect, in the sense that one may only really notice this work over time. However, I tend to think they will always be engulfed by the surrounding space – somehow not the roots you’re tripping over, nor the panoramic vista in the distance. Perhaps a larger space is what is needed to view the scale correctly.

I also question the use of the bare, untreated, yet kerf cut beams. The disparity between the polished kerfs and the raw lumber, along with the use of bare 2×4’s, does not seem intentional enough. It seems too easy, too predictable. The forms are interesting but the process should be more discreet. Referring back to earlier work, I think coloring and finishing the pieces to appear as a direct extension of the wall could be very interesting. Evolving from the older work, this could be even more intriguing because the former were essentially added planes extending from the planes of the walls, and in this iteration that notion would be skewed. Lines, rather than planes, would be erupting from the walls. The juxtaposition of the plane on the wall spewing into line would be compelling. The lines would become an exoskeleton, a fragile sketch seeping out of the plane of the wall. The strength of the wall itself would be questioned as we viewed its support outside of itself.

Generally, I am intrigued more by the idea of the work than the work itself. As already mentioned, the scale, materials, and finish should be more carefully considered, thereby making the work more intentional and powerful overall.

To learn more about Ben’s work, please visit his blog at http://benyacavone.tumblr.com/

As part of the second-year graduates’ Thesis Projects I course, candidates were each assigned two of their cohort to review. As students begin writing their thesis papers and constructing artist statements, this review process proves to be beneficial twofold. Students not only exercise their written critique skills, but are able to read about their own project from other voices. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting these reviews, so be sure to visit regularly for insights and photos of the second years’ progress!

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