The Southern Arkansas University Art Department hosted Southern artist Drék Davis for a lecture and workshop on Fri., Feb. 17. Located in
the Brinson Art Building, his show titled “Idle Warship 3.0: Compressed Narrative,” was shown in the Brinson Fine Art gallery throughout the month of February.
Events included a lecture and a workshop that began at noon. The event was open to the SAU campus as well as the community of Magnolia.
In becoming an artist Davis did not decide at one given moment that art was his calling. The interest and emphasis in art had always been there. The older he got the more he realized he was not the only person in his family to aspire in art.
“My uncle was the first person that I know of in my family to actually pursue a degree in art,” said Davis. “He has a degree in photography.”
Beginning as early as the sixth grade, Davis was immersed in artistic activity in a variety of mediums. He worked with everything from clay to acrylic paint and that was his first real exposure; the seed was planted and that is how his art career really began.
In junior high, Davis was a cartoonist for his school newspaper and his interest in art continued throughout his high school career where he took college level art classes. “It just made sense to me that when I went to college I would be an art major,” said Davis.
It just so happened that his art teacher knew the head of the graphic design department at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. A meeting was set up for Davis to present some of his work. The head of the department then suggested branching into illustration; however, the University did not have an illustration program at the time.
Davis enrolled in the drawing and painting program in the fall of 1993. Davis earned his Bachelor of Fine Art in Studio Arts at the University of Georgia in 1998, and he is presently working towards his Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art, also at the University of Georgia. The Georgia native presently resides in Bernice, La. and is an assistant professor at Grambling State University in Louisiana.
While working as an educational counselor for TRIO, the cluster that partners with the United States Department of Education to fund programs such as Upward Bound, he was speaking with students about Emmitt Till, a young African American boy that was murdered in 1955. Much to his surprise, Davis discovered that one of his students had learned about Till before, but not in a history book as one would expect, but in a Kanye West song. This occur rence sparked the wonder i n g of where we derive our information from and what kind of importance we place on entertainment f i g u r e s as opposed to political or educational figures. Davis soon realized that most students he spoke with were more interested in the entertainment figures. He was soon inspired to create the pieces that are currently displayed at SAU.
What started as a comparison between Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, two different types of people, soon blossomed into many more works of art.
The connection with SAU can be credited to associate professor of Art and Design, Scotland Stout. Stout’s wife and Davis’s wife work together at Louisiana Tech University. When Stout and Davis met, the idea of coming to SAU as a guest artist was laid on the table, and two and a half years later, we had the honor of hosting this very talented individual for a lecture and workshop.
The ideas and inspiration behind this artist can be summed up in his very own artist statement, “My inspirations are drawn from everyday life. Whether a lyric from a song, a conversation with a friend or a good book, a creative catalyst can materialize anywhere. The purpose of all of my work - audio, literary, and visual - is to spark a dialogue. I try to give the viewing public not only what is in my head, but what is in my soul, and a voice to a people that might otherwise have none. My artistic interests center around social issues. I also enjoy making music, writing poetry and short stories, exhibiting my artwork and coordinating exhibits and events.”
For more information about Drék Davis visit his website at: http:// www.southerncreativity. c o m / p r o j e c t s / d r e k _ d a v i s / i n d e x . h t m l