Israel Davis

Artist Statement

My work is an investigation of the symbols, people, and objects that affect perceptions, the subconscious, and life experience. I approach art making as research into thought, memory, and play. It is a study of metaphor through fantasy and authenticity.

This research is driven by the physics of material and the intersection of two and three-dimensions. My interests in digital imaging, drawing, and narrative are synthesized through traditional and non-traditional ceramic processes and archetypes. I enjoy the “search” and am invested in the cognitive spaces of art making. I seek to push the boundaries between object and image and to present the findings with contemporary awareness. I am concerned with dreams, dreaming, wanderlust, magic, relationships, and particulars. Therefore my practice exists outside of being only a maker. It encompasses the activities that I am involved in, such as organizing creative intensives, mentorship, my role as visiting artist, skateboarding, BMX biking, and performing music. And it involves the relationships that develop around those activities, which, in turn, inspire and drive the need to continue to explore. My quest is to be active in the “search” and to proceed in continuance with the mindset of progression.

“Progression” is a term often used by those of us who skateboard and ride BMX bikes. In use it refers to such matters as learning new tricks and practicing to hone one’s physical skills. In order to progress at these sports you have to break mental barriers to take one’s abilities to the next level. I see artistic progression in the same way. One has to be active in taking risks, asking questions, and learning the material to visualize the ideas with confidence and competency.

Ceramics poses infinite possibilities with regard to understanding how materials work together to bring forth the qualities one seeks to achieve in a work. Beyond being the discipline that has been the focus of my training, it is this characteristic that keeps me coming back to it as the primary medium in my work. Also, it’s ability to be utilitarian and nonfunctional offers a wide array of production that can be intimate, beautiful, confrontational, disgusting…the list goes on.

Though ceramics plays a significant role in my practice the work is largely project / series based and is varied in output. There are endless problems to solve using clay as a primary medium however I maintain a license to engage in other materials and media as it fits the project. For me, the work is an investigation of ideas and materials, and how those processes and thoughts move and develop to reveal answers that, in turn, reveal new questions.


Israel Davis is an artist, musician, BMX biker, and skateboarding enthusiast. He is currently assistant professor of Sculpture and Functional Art at Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, MI. He exhibits work across the country an has taught workshops both nationally and internationally.