Untamed wings of solitude

Ebonnie Hollenbeck’s new exhibit depicts wild animals in their rawest form

Ebonnie Hollenbeck
Image by: Tiffany Lam
Ebonnie Hollenbeck

Ebonnie Hollenbeck’s on the hunt and you’re her prey.

Hollenbeck, BFA ’13, has successfully concocted a striking fusion of science and nature in her exhibit Into Your Hideout IV.

In this installation, the Project Room’s walls are patterned with black trees, creating a forest scene.

The paint seemingly trickles down the trunks, reminiscent of animal saliva or blood. This hunting imagery is Hollenbeck’s almost obsessive subject matter in a lot of her work.

I noticed bullets lying on the ground and lone feathers hanging in the air — the remnants of some ominous event.

The forest-painted walls gave me the feeling I was being watched between the trees.

I almost expected to hear a branch snap under my feet.

This unsettling effect quietly sneaks up on the viewer.

The most striking part of the exhibit was the chandelier-like cluster of splayed wings and window panes dangling from the ceiling. I couldn’t help but continuously look above my ahead at what was suspended there.

Although the artist’s mother bred domesticated animals for pet shops, Hollenbeck says in her artist’s statement that she’s drawn to more untamed and wild animals.

Hollenbeck astutely points out that, in a sense, she performs the very themes she’s interested in expressing. Those of hunting and being hunted.

The artist scavenges for feathers and hunts down deer skulls for her artwork. Knowing that each material used in the exhibit was hand-picked was impressive, but also creepy.

Two deer skulls, acquired from a Quebec hunting trip, are attached half-way up the wall opposite the entrance. Their eeriness was matched by the Canadian geese and macaw feathers found hanging in the space.

Because the Project Room is tucked away in Union Gallery, the exhibit truly becomes a “hideout” or refuge from the outside world.

Earlier, I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the winged pieces called to mind, but then it hit me — they reminded me of the moment of impact when a bird collides with a window.

The feathers are spread out in panic, yet they’re jarringly still, like a horrific snapshot in time. The show is initially a welcome recluse, but simultaneously unnerving.

Into Your Hideout IV blurs the line between safe and sinister by making you question whether you are observing the exhibit or it’s observing you.

Into Your Hideout IV is on exhibit in the Project Room of Union Gallery until Nov. 27.


Art Review, Ebonnie Hollenbeck, Into Your Hideout IV, Union Gallery

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