The Giant Squid

Photo of Erik Durant

Artist Erik Durant dismantling his Giant Squid.

Artist Erik Durant was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He studied History and Sculpture at Southern Connecticut State University.  In 2001 he moved to New Bedford to attend the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  He completed an MFA in Sculpture in 2004.  In 2006 he began teaching at Bristol Community College and is currently the Coordinator of the Fine Arts program.  Durant regularly shows his work between Providence and New Bedford.  He has also recently shown in New York and Texas.  

Artist’s Statement

Stories of a fearsome Leviathan from the deep have existed as long as men have sailed the seas. Those who hunted the whale often thought they found evidence of this strange and terrifying enemy.  The sailors also imagined that epic battles took place between a giant squid and a whale.  The stories of this battle were as prevalent among nineteenth century whale men as they are on the Discovery Channel today.  Although scientists now know that it is the whale that hunts the squid, I – following in the footsteps of 19th century imagination – chose to envision the giant squid attacking the institution that today represents the whale.

Background

Durant’s Giant Squid was one of eight original outdoor sculptures exhibited on the campus of the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Titled “In the Unequal Cross-Lights – Contemporary Sculptors Respond to the Whaling Museum Collections”, the exhibit was curated by Professor Lasse Antonsen, College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA), University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

A collaborative art project between the CVPA, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and the Museum, eight original works were installed throughout the Museum campus. The Exhibition’s title was taken from Moby-Dick where Ishmael, having arrived in New Bedford, enters the Spouter Inn and in the “unequal cross-lights” encounters a marvelous painting he is unable to make sense of. He realizes he is confronted with a work of art that requires “careful inquiry,” “earnest contemplation, and “repeated ponderings.” 

Durant and his colleagues spent the summer of 2010 and early fall studying the Whaling Museum’s collections, inspiring the new works which are made from a variety of materials, but which relate and interpret whaling and maritime themes. The exhibition was funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and a grant from the Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations (ECHO), administered by the United States Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement.

Durant’s sculpture quickly became a popular fixture over the Museum’s main entrance, with many visitors stopping to photograph the Giant Squid, and themselves, for posts to family and friends.

Last modified: October 19, 2017