David Habben enjoys the ‘Flow’ of ink
Artist David Habben loves working with ink because it’s unlike any medium he’s used.
“On one level, you have to be ready to commit to a mark on the page,” he said. “It’s not like a pencil you can erase. It’s not like oil paint where you can work it over and over again,” Habben said during a Park Record interview. “I also like the idea that the medium does have some kind of control over what I do, because I can’t lie with ink. I can’t pretend that I didn’t make a mark after I do. And that makes me a little more deliberate and gives me a sense of daring. It’s like jumping out of a plane. You go for it and hope the chute works.”
Habben will open “Flow” an exhibit of his ink works during a reception at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.
The event, which will feature dances from the Duhaime Movement Project, is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required. To RSVP, visit kimballartcenter.org/r-s-v-p-member-preview.
The idea for the works that comprise “Flow” bubbled to the surface during a project Habben did with the University of Utah’s dance department two years ago when the ballet and modern dance programs merged.
“I was an art student and created some work to help promote the merger,” said Habben, who calls Salt Lake City his home. “A lot of the works come directly from the experience, and at the time that I was doing them, I was content in showing them just as they were.”
Some of the works, which were created with brushes and pen nibs, have evolved since then.
“What’s different now is that I’ve added to those paintings and added some illustrative elements to bring them into more of my own sense of expression,” he said.
“Flow” is divided into three sections.
The first is composed of 30 works of black ink that were inspired by the dancers.
“The next segment is made of 16 pieces where I’ve added some color,” Habben said. “Then there is a series of smaller works as well.”
In addition to the opening receptions, Habben will lead an art workshop for adults from 7-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
Participants will create a community-based mural that will measure about six feet tall and 30 feet wide.
“We’ll have some dancers performing during the workshop as well, so the people in the workshop will get the full experience that I had two years ago,” Habben said.
The artist is no stranger to the Kimball Art Center. He taught classes about illustration and book design a few summers ago.
“When I got my bachelors degree at the U, the Kimball Art Center extended the invitation to do a show,” he said. “I think I’m the lucky one in this partnership.”
Habben has loved drawing every since he was a child.
“Even though I’ve tried other forms of art, I always return to drawing,” he said. “During the last decade, I have found much enjoyment through ink and the directness of black-and-white illustrations.”
Habben draws inspiration from a variety of sources.
“I’ll get it from things that I’ve seen or read or people’s I’ve met,” he said.
There was a change for him when he started working with the dancers.
“Rarely do I start with a reference of models or a scene to get at something,” he said. “So to draw something from them was a shift for me.”
Part of the reason why Habben collaborated with the dance program is to expand his artistic horizons.
“I wanted to challenge myself and get out of my typical method,” he said. “I wasn’t tired of what I was doing, but I wanted to push forward and keep myself on my toes.”
“I was fortunate to have some great instructors who offered some sound direction and introduced me to people to help me see things differently,” he said.
When starting a project, Habben sometimes knows what he wants to accomplish. Other times he doesn’t.
“When things turn into an evolutionary process, there is an intensive openness that I have to take to the ink before I commit to a design,” he said. “The reason is because I create abstract shapes and I have to be open to interpreting it in different ways rather than forcing it to become something I want.”
While starting a piece is easy, Habben said finishing one is another story.
“I thought lot of work I will show at the Kimball was done, and I could easily have settled with them, but as I looked at them, I began to see more potential and more opportunity with them,” he said. “I’m a sucker for details and I like to fill the space [of the canvas] with different things. I could keep adding something to these works forever, or until the whole page becomes a solid black thing.”
After a pause, Habben said, “Maybe that’s the next step.”
An artist reception for David Habben’s “Flow” exhibit will start at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Kimball Art Center, 1401 Kearns Blvd.
The event, which will feature the dancers from the Duhaime Movement Project, is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are suggested.
The exhibit will run from Dec. 16 to Jan. 7.
For information or to RSVP, visit http://www.kimballartcenter.org.
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