Written by Lola Taylor
Sam Davis, assistant professor of photography at SUU, will present an artist talk about his life, artwork, and artistic inspiration for Art Insights Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Southern Utah Museum of Art in Cedar City. Art Insights is hosted by SUU’s Department of Art and Design. The event is free and open to the public.
Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Davis received his bachelor’s degree Florida in creative photography from the University of and a master’s degree with an emphasis in photography and sculpture from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has worked as a graphic artist for WSRE-TV in Pensacola and as a studio assistant for Jerry Uelsmann and Maggie Taylor. Sam served for six years as a full-time instructor of photography at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and for three years as a full-time visiting faculty at Ringling College of Art and Design. When he is not teaching, Davis actively exhibits artwork across the United States and abroad. He is currently teaching as an assistant professor of photography at Southern Utah University.
“I grew up in a family of men and women who were always building and creating something,” Davis said. “My parents were very encouraging of me following my own path and supported me in countless projects and adventures. The appreciation of art, music, literature, and museums was always a big deal in our family and has continued with me as I’ve grown older. On a personal level, I am happiest when I am moving something from idea to existence.”
Davis creates images that reference his love of family history coupled with a playful curiosity of popular and kitsch culture. His images combine obscure technology, science fiction, and childhood fantasy to call into question notions regarding memory, nostalgia, imagination, and pulp/cyber folklore. Davis creates images that he hopes will cause the viewer to pause and question while at the same time provide a pathway for the viewer into another frame of thought to proactively imagine.
“I try to structure my interests, which are vast and varied, so that my life is my inspiration,” said Davis. “For the past ten years, I’ve been focused primarily on the notion of science fiction and pop-folklore (think UFO’s and cryptozoology). Silly things like beauty, passion, and the sublime are all factors in my creative process, though. I’m often inspired by life itself, just through my own weird lens.”
As a professor at SUU, Davis is often encouraging his students, “Do it!” or “Mess it up!”
“I find myself asking everyone ‘What are you thinking?’ and I try to push the idea of responding truthfully,” said Davis. “I think art comes from that place, the distracted daydream, that we as creatives always have. I think it’s good when someone asks us what we’re thinking to try to put that into works so we can put it into our art. I try to be open to daydreaming and imagining as frequently as possible.”
For more information about Sam Davis, visit his website at samdavisart.com.
Art Insights is hosted during the fall and spring semesters by SUU’s art and design faculty. Students and community members meet to experience presentations and discussions by visiting artists and art educators from around the nation who share their work and insights.