The National Gallery of the Cayman Islands (NGC) is proud to exhibit the work of Horacio Esteban, one of the Cayman Islands’ most renowned sculptors,-known for his work with Cayman’s indigenous natural stone Caymanite and limestone as well as 250-year-old re-claimed ancient cedarwood. His art has been featured in solo exhibitions such as ‘Ce’Da’Art’ at the Cayman Islands National Cultural Foundation (CNCF), Floating Rocks at Treasure Island Resort, and One Native’s Son at Arteccentrix, among others. Born to Caymanian and Cuban parents in the culturally-rich setting of post-revolution Havana, Cuba, he fell in love with the natural beauty of the Cayman Islands after moving to Cayman Brac at the age of four. He was inspired to become a sculptor at the age of eleven, when his industrial arts teacher, Edmond “Eddy” Scott, would lead excursions to gather local cedar, brown coral, and Caymanite for classroom projects. We are pleased to take the opportunity to ask him about his accomplishments and the experience of working in these unique mediums.
NGCI: Having been born in Havana, Cuba, to both Caymanian and Cuban parents, how does your dual heritage influence you and your work today?
Horacio: Dual heritage early influences were at times super confusing. Constantly trying to identify self, social surround, family, friends and how to live without a father, who was left behind in Cuba due to political constraints. Today, I find myself grateful every second for everything – good or bad – which I believe has allowed me a sense of freedom and exploration within my creative process..
NGCI: The two mediums you use most often are Caymanite and Cayman cedar wood. What continues to attract you to them, and what is their significance to you?
Horacio: I use Caymanite and other local natural stones because they seem to have a holistic presence within them that can sooth the human spirit, stimulate creativity and often provide a sense of blissful inner peace. Ancient cedar, because of its application and compliment to natural stone, glass, metal, along with the ability to produce two and three-dimensional projects in a material that is impervious to insects and can withstand the elements for long periods of time in its natural state. Last but by no means least, is the fact that these materials are right beneath our feet and next to our shoulders.
NGCI: What challenges does Caymanite present as a medium? How are you able to create a sculpture around the natural strata of different colors included in the rock?
Horacio: Challenges are first sourcing the material, then working the material with diamond impregnated tools, and sanding to a fine finish which prepares it for polishing. Creating a sculpture from Caymanite can follow a few criteria. One is to look for size, shapes, forms, and color within the stone, in order to create from what is visibly there. Two, is to decide on a subject, create a marque or prototype, find suitable raw materials to choose from; preferably more than one piece just in case there’s invisible cracks of faults within the piece that weren’t visible from the outside. Then, begin to envision the subject from a negative perspective in order to remove waste material.
NGCI: Does nature have a hand in influencing your work? As you discover new sections of wood to include, do your sculptures change in any significant way from what you initially imagined?
Horacio: Nature has everything to do with influencing my work. Changes are constant within the creative process and it seems that without it [change] the creative process suffers every time.
NGCI: Do you believe there is a unifying theme to your artwork? What do you hope for viewers to take away from it?
Horacio: The underlying theme in my work is always the use of indigenous materials and building on themes that reflect even the smallest portion of this jurisdiction’s DNA. I hope viewers take just this: our indigenous materials, used in creative ways, to capture and express Caymanian culture and heritage, to stimulate emotions and, andgenerate spiritual value.
Special Lecture with Horacio Esteban
Wednesday, 22 November 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Meet one of Cayman’s premiere sculptures and listen as Horacio Esteban discusses his work. Admission is free and refreshments will be served.