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Dexter Davis

SOS, Blackface
print, collage
12" x 15" each 

(b. 1965 – Cleveland, OH) Drawing from past experiences of grief and trauma, Davis’s work is at once immediately emotional and unhurriedly reflective. He states, “I am an African-American. But my work is a spiritual thing. It meets everybody. It’s an energy. I have to ignite the energy force. I don’t do it from the standpoint of being angry. I do it from the standpoint of healing.” This ambitious aim is achieved with an equally ambitious array of mediums—charcoal, wood block prints, watercolor, and graphite make up collages teaming with energy and content that demands interaction.

In SOS, Blackface, the artist presents nine identity totems—figurative ghosts—each a portrait for healing, a portal for transcendence, and a calling for progress.

Davis received a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art. His work can be found in the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Clinic, and the Progressive Art Collection, and has been exhibited by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and the William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, OH. Davis works on the security team at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

From the nominating artist: 

As a young art student, I fell deeply in love with collage. This was due in part to my mentor, a painter and collagist, who spent a good part of my education sharing the clever, powerful, and romantic work of such artists as Romare Bearden, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kurt Schwitters. I have long admired the work of Dexter Davis; one might say he’s even been a hero of mine. His work continues the traditions of those artists I studied. It’s rich content is mirrored in the way he handles his materials. Each scrap Dexter uses to build his final image simultaneously transcends and retains its history, creating work that is tactile, emotive, gritty, and vulnerable. Despite living in Northeast Ohio for a long time, I had never met Dexter until this project. Dexter is the ‘real McCoy,’ and I continue to admire not only his work, but also him, as a bright, kind person, and as a thoughtful, remarkable artist.
— Amber Kempthorn

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