Sculpted vessels cranes and egrets by George Debikey(Photo: Tom Shafer/For the Journal & Courier)

Hand Blown Glass by Oliver Debikey (Photo: Tom Shafer/For the Journal & Courier)

Hand Blown Glass by Oliver Debikey (Photo: Tom Shafer/For the Journal & Courier)

Family's "Creative Spirit' sparkles

Tom Shafer, Friday October 30, 2105
Lafayette Journal and Courier

“Creative Spirits,” the current exhibit in the McDonald Gallery at the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette, could certainly be renamed “It’s a Family Affair!”

Ceramic sculpture, mixed media paintings and blown glass by George, Ilana and Oliver Debikey fill the exhibit space with vivid color, fluid forms and intricate wall art. The conversations at the family dinner table must be very interesting when three dynamic visual artists sit down together.

The ceramic work of George Debikey is the result of a lifetime of study and experimentation. As director of research and development for more than three decades at the American Art Clay Company, Debikey has reached a level of knowledge and skill few artists achieve. His pieces reside in numerous private collections and represent a variety of techniques and mediums.

Viewers will enjoy not only the interesting slab built and wheel thrown shapes but the variety of surface treatments. The artist uses rich browns and deep greens for the main coloration of the vessel but then adds vivid glazes to establish lively patterned backgrounds on which he adds imagery of various species of birds.

"Majesty," acrylic with 23K gold by Ilana Debikey (Photo: Tom Shafer/For the Journal & Courier)

"Majesty," acrylic with 23K gold by Ilana Debikey (Photo: Tom Shafer/For the Journal & Courier)

The mixed media paintings in pen, ink and acrylic by Ilana Debikey are small yet intricate. Each piece contains flowing imagery that in many incidences uses 23K gold as a linear motif that helps the viewer visually explore each composition. The artist builds her compositions around a stylized female figure. In most of the work, the figure is shown from mid-chest up with eyes closed revealing little emotion. Each female is surrounded by intensely colored complex abstract backgrounds that hold each work firmly together. Without exception, each piece can be described by simply saying beautiful.

Rounding out this exceptional exhibit is the blown glasswork of Oliver Debikey. One can only imagine that the young Debikey was greatly influenced by his father’s elegant ceramic vessels and his mother’s complex and colorful paintings. As an aerospace engineer, Debikey quickly mastered the techniques of traditional glass blowing. He also developed his own technical variations to create colorful organic blown glass vessels.

Each piece demonstrates this artist’s complete control of his medium. The elegant shapes are complimented perfectly with vivid multicolored surface considerations that flow across each form.

Again, the exhibition committee at our art museum has brought us another outstanding exhibit the entire family will enjoy.

Shafer provides insight about art exhibits in Greater Lafayette. Email him at orieshafer@hotmail.com.