Color and texture play a vital part in the sculptural work of artist Flora Davis. We spoke with her about inspiration, and community.
ABI: How would you describe your concept and your body of work?
FD: Mindful awareness is the concept that drives my creativity. I describe it as “a-mind-full-of-all”– allowing the wonders of all my experiences in the moment to be present (the good, the bad, and everything). In order for this to happen, my mind becomes an observer, rather than a judge. I soon discovered that creating from this perspective became an opening into a world of endless imagination.
My work is spontaneously created. As I work, a merging occurs – my love of nature, texture, color, form, and shadow, with the excitement and tension that is present during mindful awareness.
I would describe my current work as being the most recent iteration of this ongoing, cumulative process: a dance between my love of nature and the energy of creative possibilities. Visually, they are wall sculptures, with a surface texture reminiscent of color-field paintings.
ABI: Tell us about your history as an artist and the transition to new mediums.
FD: I began as an oil painter. I loved color. I also struggled with my artistic voice. An opportunity presented itself: an independent MFA program that encouraged the exploration of what I loved and valued. I had also recently discovered mediation, and it soon became obvious to merge this discipline with my studies.
Teaching art, I was always told, was an excellent way to grow as an artist. I was lucky to put this to practice. In order to teach, I had to became a beginner, relearning what I thought I knew. My art took a dramatic turn as a result.
No color. No paints. No brushes. Using only my hands, I immersed myself into the sensuality of wet clay. I connected to the clay’s texture and subtle visual variety; from dark browns to reds to white. Beeswax, poured hot, added an olfactory dimension to this new work.
I do not remember how it arrived: the small piece of copper. I became enamored. Next, steel presented itself, and I loved that too. Both were embraced by the clay and the wax, until…
My work transformed, again. I now am using only metal (steel, copper, brass, and aluminum) as my medium. Like a zen alchemist, I work the surface of metal, creating earthly and colorful patinas. These are glued onto panels, or bent and shaped by hand into wall sculptures.
ABI: Community is extremely important to you as an artist. What benefits have you found through being part of a group?
FD: My studio has always been part of an artist collective. In the past twenty-six years, scores of diverse artists passed through my life as the collective expanded (from eight to forty-three), offering invaluable opportunities, while enriching my artistic development.
The main benefit is camaraderie with peers. Some other benefits include: information about shows, connections offered, where to get a certain product, an introduction to a gallerist, the sharing of contact lists or tools, technical information, and help curating and hanging art.
But more importantly, deep friendships resulted, some lasting for years. And with friendship came the trust to critique and challenge one another, allowing myself to open and listen, and artistically mature.