Posted May 22, 2008

The young man and the sea: Tyler grad's art mixes sculpture, shipbuilding

Master of fine arts: sculpture

No matter where Tyler School of Art sculpture student Daniel Loren Ostrov goes, ships keep sailing into his life like a recurring dream.

As a boy in Wisconsin, he drew pictures of sailboats. He sailed them at camp and with his father. He joined the crew of traditional English cutter after graduating from college. He researched shipwrecks and survivors' tales. And while in graduate school at Tyler, he visited a traditional shipbuilding school in Washington state and began to learn the art of constructing wooden hulls at Philadelphia's Independence Seaport Museum.

Photo by Michael Ostrov
Daniel Loren Ostrov

With his master of fine arts thesis project — a massive multimedia installation called "A Firmament of Waters" that was on exhibit at Temple Gallery in April — Ostrov brought together a lifetime's worth of experiences with ships and the sea and years of training in glassblowing.

Photo by Jon Carlano


You can smell Ostrov's work even before you see it. At his M.F.A. show, the smoky smell of tarred marline, a type of sailing rope, filled Temple Gallery and drifted out the door and into the street. Inside the gallery, tall, slatted wood structures resembling sections of a ship's hull guided the viewer to a space where large, curved ribs of glass could be seen emerging from the floor. The scene was illuminated by light projected from above through a clear tray of water, making the glass ribs look like a shipwreck at the bottom of a shallow sea. (For more images of Ostrov's M.F.A. thesis exhibit, go to

To build his hulls, Ostrov uses centuries-old techniques and traditional nails, glues, ropes and other materials.

"My hope is to get better at this as I learn about boatbuilding so I can build structures that are more boat-like," Ostrov said. "I would like to become a master shipwright."


Although the lines and forms of sunken ships are lovely, to Ostrov, shipwrecks offer an opportunity to explore the concepts of memory and sanctuary.

"I want to evoke universal memories buried within human consciousness, and there is something universally nostalgic about the image of a shipwreck," Ostrov said. "There are millions of shipwrecks out there, unidentified and undiscovered. When you think about a shipwreck at the bottom of the ocean, it becomes a sacred space of the mind — timeless, like a sanctuary. That's what I'm trying to go for."

Photo by Jon Carlano