Under the Monocle: David Wallace Haskins

Although the name David Wallace Haskins might not ring a bell to some of you, his artwork certainly will. The York alumn is responsible for creating the ever popular Skycube instillation at the Elmhurst Art Museum along with his own multi-media solo exhibition “Presence” that appeared in the museum.


Haskins attended Sandburg Middle School and York, and as a result of the great programs the schools that had to offer, he was able to develop skills in multiple fields, such as woodwork, ceramics, drawing, architecture and electronics, giving him a great foundation to create multi-media art.


Photo courtesy of Danielle Fite
Senior Danielle Fite snaps a picture in the “Void Room”, a piece included in Haskins’ exhibition “Presence” at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

“After having such a diverse upbringing and exposure to so many different disciplines, it did feel natural to move into many different kinds of art,” said Haskins about growing up in Elmhurst and how it shaped his voice as an artist.


Using the resources his schooling provided him, Haskins was able to become a self taught artist. He started pursuing art seriously in his twenties after experiencing hardships and struggles within his life that triggered an artistic vision. He learned more on his craft by reading about art, philosophy, history and ecology, listening to podcasts, and talking to as many people as possible about his ideas and aspirations.


“I absorbed as much as I could and then I began processing my ideas and thoughts with anyone and everyone who would listen,” said Haskins on his journey toward becoming an artist.


All of Haskins’ hard work wouldn’t go unnoticed. His artwork was eventually recognized by the Art Institute of Chicago, which was a huge step in the right direction towards getting his pieces in museums.


Haskins’ most well known piece is the Skycube, an intricate display of mirrors that allows the sky to look like a two-dimensional painting. Even though the resulting product may appear to be effortlessly stunning, the process of creating the Skycube was anything but easy, and took years and years of brainstorming to finally achieve.


“I had been ruminating for six years about the best way to bring the sky down to the pictorial plane, as a living painting but was held back by various fears of how to successfully achieve it and fears of it being too simple,” said Haskins on the process behind creating the Skycube. “But at that moment, I decided to stop thinking about it and actually execute it. So I got up and made a small model of the Skycube outside right then and there. When I finally saw how it all worked, I was so overwhelmed by the effect and experience I just started laughing. I knew I had stumbled on something special and felt pretty foolish for sitting on the idea for so many years.”


Haskins wasn’t the one who was overwhelmed by the experience the Skycube creates. To say that visitors are amazed by the project would be a huge understatement. The Skycube is easily one of the most photogenic and most photographed places in Elmhurst. Although Haskins predicted the enormous amount of attention the Skycube would receive by viewers, he didn’t expect the piece to have as profound of an impact as it does today.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Fite
Senior Carina Kanzler (left) and Junior Ellie Ryan admire Haskins’ “Skycube”, an art display that makes the sky look like a two-dimensional painting.

“I knew most people love the sky and enjoy being surprised by the things they love, especially when those things arrive in a delightful and unexpected way that increases

their appreciation of them-that’s what the work did for me and so I wasn’t surprised when it did the same for so many others,” said Haskins on the Skycube’s popularity, “But what I didn’t expect was how people would find it deeply moving. I mean I had hoped for that, and clearly intended it to be a kind of otherworldly encounter. But the way people internally experience something on that level can be hard to predict. So in that sense it’s been a great to hear people say things like “the more I looked out- the deeper I looked in.””


But the Skycube is just the beginning of Haskins’ breathtaking multimedia pieces. Haskins had his own exhibition at the Elmhurst Art Museum entitled “Presence” and the artwork displayed was equally as impressive as the Skycube. Some of the pieces include a room that engulfed you in sounds from all angles to a pitch-black room with a hidden surprise inside-a huge fuzzy ball at the other end. The interactive exhibit played with multiple different senses as well as spacial awareness. All of the skills Haskins learned from school as well as the knowledge he absorbed through his journey of self-discovery came into play throughout this incredible interactive exhibition.


Overall, Haskins’ mindset is definitely shown throughout his art, letting go of all stressors in our lives and immersing ourselves in our own emotions.

Photo courtesy of Danielle Fite
Senior Shanice Muirhead stands in front of the entrance of Haskins’ “Void Room” at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

“I think it’s only through accepting and moving into and through our fears and suffering that we ever really find our purpose and value in this world. I tried to avoid myself and my life through numerous distractions, our minds and bodies are so good at finding creative way to do that. But once I really let go and moved into a deeper journey of not avoiding myself and my pain I found my voice as a person and became awake to my values and desires and began exercising the small bits of humility needed to actually slow down and close my mouth and open my ears to truly listen and learn from those further down the road. It’s a lifelong process and I am still enjoying it but it was essential to me learning how to truly see myself and the world around me, which is what being an artist is really all about,” said Haskins about his artistic process.

You can check out Haskins’ Skycube at the Elmhurst Art Museum.