Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Oben Abright

This post is part of a series spotlighting the range of artists and musicians involved in Floating World Projects. See all.

San Francisco-based artist Oben Abright has been drawing, painting, and sculpting since he was in elementary school, taking after his artist parents. After studying at the Lorenzo deMedici Institute of Art in Florence, he received his BFA in Glass from the California College of the Arts in 2004.

Working from his own drawings and photographs, Oben creates closely-studied portrait sculpture out of glass, metal, and clay. For some pieces he sprays oil paint on certain areas and wipes it partially off, creating a colorful, textured look. His series are inspired by neglected or war-torn areas and the people affected, giving widespread problems a more intimate focus. He believes the three-dimensionality of his pieces makes them more impactful than photography or written reportage, and hopes to raise awareness through the stories his works tell.

His "Market Street" series looks at homeless residents of San Francisco through confrontational portraits from the waist up, with many of the subjects shown bundled up or huddled over. 
Gabe (Seated)
mold blown glass, oil paint, cement and steel

Market Street Series IV 
mold blown glass and oil paint

Zee Cee
mold blown glass and oil paint

Market Street Series VIII
mold blown glass and oil paint

Oben's newest series is currently on view at the Echt Gallery in Chicago in an exhibition titled "Portraits of Loi Tailang Burma", with pieces modeled after photographs he took while visiting Burma to document the under-reported genocide of the Shan- an ethnic group within a mountainous area of Myanmar- and other minority peoples in the region. They have been pushed out of their homes by Burmese troops and thousands are living as refugees in Loi Tailang, a border city near Thailand. His sculptures offer a forthright and honest depiction of these men, women, and children in a detailed, textured, and bold style.

Nang Ga
preparatory sketch for sculptural installation

Orphaned Boys

While in Istanbul with other Floating World Projects artists, Oben focused on street photography of the gritty and neglected areas of the city, and is now working on a new portrait series based on these images. He will also be traveling to Palestine with FWP next year to work on the planned documentary of the al-Natsheh glass factory in Hebron.

Oben's official site
Echt Gallery official site
"The Art of Suffering"- an account of Oben's experiences in Burma by Antonio Graceffo

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