The director of Swan Song Contemporary Arts, Cynde Randall, wrote these thoughtful words about my show (opening TONIGHT 6/12/10.)
Thank you so much, Cynde!
Jennifer Davis creates lyrical figurative works of serious tenderness and beauty. She lures us into her painted world through flowing line, pastel palette and a quixotic sensibility. Her signature style belies her worry and the enduring mystery that permeates her realm. Throughout her compositions, Davis presents an array of fantastic characters and transmuted creatures who seem happy to co-exist in a flat landscape devoid of contextual cues. It is a visionary place. And it resonates with the pictorial truth of Jennifer Davis’ bewilderment and love.
In describing her process, Davis explains that her images rise up out of each surface while she works. She begins her compositions under painting simple territories of flat color. Nearly always, the eyes (of animal or plant) appear first, like portals into some sentient being to which Davis intuits a surrounding form. It can be said that her paintings are self portraits, but not in any staid sense of the word. She appears in each composition—like an avatar of many guises—her primary incarnation a wide-eyed girl who is mild yet ever-vigilant. She is patient with aliens, a friend to plants and animals; always serving as a protector for the meek and those who can not run. She is, indeed, the mistress of her domain.
In her large-scale work titled “Keeper”, our sleepless protagonist (who looks to have been up for days, perhaps even years) carries a large potted plant that reaches high over her head with branched foliage. She easily supports its weight; her connection to the plant made clear by the identical pattern of leaves emblazoned on her dress. For Davis, the plant is a powerful symbol for creativity; each leaf holding a separate concern. “This plant is her responsibility,” says Davis. “It speaks to the daily challenge of being an artist and of living a genuine life in the 21st century.”
A mysterious deer-like creature proceeds across a virtual landscape in “Preserve”, with trees and ferns riding on its back. She is the allusive every-creature, immune to our classification and control. She, too, is emblazoned with leaves on her body, like the pre-historic horses and reindeers honored by their people with indigo tattoos. She carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. Indeed, without her, we are through.
In Davis’s mixed media work titled “New Puppy” the chaos of an endless information loop floats above a dog-headed girl, who sits in the void of a horizon-less space. Holding her head in hands, she ponders her situation. A nearby puppy, fully intact as a canine, is not daunted. This, coupled with the fact that she had the wherewithal to put together a stylin’ outfit, assures us that there is still hope.
A childlike wonderment reads throughout Davis’ work; something that continually exclaims “Look at this!” and “What is really happening?” Davis never pretends to be didactic, but if we choose to apply her riddles to our own make-believe, we might find the answer, which is this: tend to and care for what is in your midst. This simple sentiment holds the power to re-set the trajectory of our human future. It is said that the meek shall inherit the Earth. If this is so, one can only hope that the likes of Jennifer Davis and her cast of sentient beings will ultimately receive what is duly their own.
(see the post below for more info about the gallery and show.)