By design: Eben Armer
Martha’s Vineyard mason is taking stone sculpture to the next level
As he currently prepares for a surfing expedition in storm-bearing Morocco, Martha’s Vineyard mason and sculptor Eben Armer stresses the benefits of venturing off into the world to explore its rich, varying sceneries and cultures, never knowing when something “might spur a new idea or fresh approach.” For Armer, surfing provides a heightened sense of awareness and a connection to nature that permeates his work. This work involves bringing life and emotion to the mysteriously perplexing medium of stone. Naming the Vineyard as a constant source of inspiration, Armer aims to elevate natural stone pieces to reflect emotions or moments dripping with life, breathing beauty and energy into the formerly emotionless medium.
Armer began his career working with stone “by a stroke of luck,” as he puts it, falling in love with the art form as a youth and carrying that love into both his career and fascination in adulthood. In 1996, Armer, then 17, got a summer job working for noted Vineyard mason Lew French—an experience he says changed his life and set forth a career in stonework. After working with French and others in the trade on the island, Armer started his own masonry company, Contact Stone, in 2003, offering a diverse portfolio of functional stonework from fireplaces and walls to outdoor showers and benches. “Being my own boss was crucial in making my ideas materialize,” he notes. In 2012, Armer ventured outside of his professional work and began his first personal sculptural work, “Home,” a monolithic piece of stone with the center removed and a “lace wall” inside the void. “I quickly became infatuated with the sculpting process of sketching, planning and engineering each piece,” he says, “cultivating a deep desire and commitment to exposing my artistic ideas.”
Armer’s work stands out amidst the stone-riddled Martha’s Vineyard, with his naturally organic pieces inflated by a level of artistry that can only be achieved through passion and patience—allowing him to leave an indelible mark on the historical and natural repertoire of the island. “I want to not just build but create beautiful landmarks that endure the test of time,” he says. Having gathered possible concepts for years, Armer says he does not fall short on inspiration as he attempts to divulge the essence of his surroundings, unifying natural material and human expression with each swing of the hammer.
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