"My artwork is the sum product of a combined and incomplete life experience." These are the words from a man who has met ambassadors, had art exhibited alongs,de Robert Mapptethorpe's, worked at a UN command post, had his work censored, and now teaches at We stem Michigan University (WMU).
Bill Davis' most recent work, studies the intersection between realms: whether it is the interconnection between the psychological and the physical, or the intellectual and the visual. Davis' work draws viewers in by its complex• ity. His black and white photographs create an air of remoteness, which attracts viewers' attention to Davis' philosophical narrative of the intersection and understanding of ways in which worlds intertwine.
In the Palimpsest Series, Davis utilizes chalkboards to study the concept of memorywhat is remembered, what ,s forgotten, and who chooses what is erased. "Chalkboards are a repository for 1mag1nation and knowledge," Davis said. "The fractal collision of evidenced disciplines on one board fascinates me. Partially erased or less complete chalkboards containing only written and diagrammed parts of lectures share uncommon space and, not unlike memory, create a gestalt of message, feedback, and cipher, which I find intractably compelling." The idea of the Palimpsest Series came from the pahmpsest used by Monks, who would use and reuse the same piece of parchment to convey a variety of messages of their way of life. The end result becomes something similar to the chaos of Jean-Michel Basqu1at's work, the markings on the chalkboard explain the mathematical connection between sounds, light, and time.
Manifest Rites is a series of portraits dwelling on the mental effects of chronic conditions. Davis explains his focus on this subJect, "Humans are psychologically affected by anatomic and genetic conditions. While we may not escape the perils of illness, we can control our reaction to 1t. Scars can last longer than memories. Yet they psychologically remind us of much more than the trauma that created them." The images tend to have a stark balance created by the white image emerging from the depth of darkness. Dav,s said, "Bald heads and bare feet are important visual attributes that prompt my creattVity- because they represent vulnerability/courage. clearly define contour/form, and convey less visible human nature. Hair has personality that can unnecessanly overwhelm the lighting and the message." Contmumg the concept of elimination of human nature, the models usually have their eyes closed, so that viewers' inter• pretatlon can be more formally directed to the concepts of life, death, and sleep. As Davis explained, ''opened eyes can convey more than I want the viewer to consider. Their absence expands viewer cunosity under a mor1e narrowed message."
Apart from his personal work, Davis continues the study of how art can be used to express our understanding of the world. The Autism & Visual Art Project, a program Davis organized, where WMU students partnered with kids with autism to work on art projects and study how autistic kids communicate through art.
Check out more of Davis' work at www.billdavisfotos.com
To learn more about the Autism & Visual Art Project watch this video:
"Monday Night Live" - Rotary Club. Interviewer: Keith Rowe. (1:00:07)
PBS- WGVU "Kalamazoo Lively Arts" - Interviewer: Shelly Irwin (5:01)
Richmond Center for Visual Arts - Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA - Interview Questions: Indra Lacis