Damon Davis (b. 1985) is an award-winning, post-disciplinary artist based in St. Louis, Missouri. In a practice that is part therapy, part social commentary, his work spans across a spectrum of creative mediums to tell stories exploring how identity is informed by power and mythology. Davis seeks to empower and give voice to the powerless and combat systems of oppression, focusing not only on pain but also on the joy of the Black experience.
His first solo exhibition Darker Gods in The Garden of Low Hanging Heavens premiered in St. Louis in 2018, traveling to Art Basel Miami later that year. Davis has work in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Saint Louis Art Museum, and he has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts as well as at the San Diego Contemporary Museum of Art.
“I am a post-disciplinary artist based in St. Louis, Missouri. In a practice that is part therapy, part social commentary, my work spans across a spectrum of creative mediums to tell stories exploring how power is informed by identity and mythology. I seek to empower and give voice to the powerless and combat systems of oppression, focusing not only on pain but also the joy of the Black experience. In having a conversation with myself, my intention is that my work provides insight for people to see themselves, foster growth, and expand perspectives.
My work is rooted in the Black American experience because that is my experience. I use themes of identity to critique the cultural norms of Black America, the troupes thrust upon us by the status quo, as well as the trauma that comes with everyday life. I explore the concept of power, what it is, how it is used, and who gets to use it. In particular, examining my own gender and sexual orientation privileges has led me to meditate on the culture of extraction that exemplifies the way we treat the environment and women. Power is enforced by identity and both are upheld by mythology. Race, gender, even power itself, I believe, are myths that we buy into for safety, comfort, and understanding. We can teach and connect to each other through the myths we tell. Each of these elements–Identity, Power, and Mythology–inform each other, and understanding and unpacking them is my driving motivation.”