by Cade Webb
Professor Sam Davis has only been teaching ceramics at the college for two years, but students now have an opportunity to get to know Davis outside of the classroom and learn a little bit about his work and the different stories behind it. Davis currently has his work displayed at the Plenum Space gallery in the East Crossroads District in Kansas City.
From the first Friday of August until the 29th of the month, Davis’ artwork will be on display, and students are invited to come learn about his work. Davis has only been living in Kansas City for about three years, and the way his art was put on display in this current gallery is quite interesting.
“When I moved here, I met the curator of the gallery when she overheard me talking in the Nelson-Atkins museum. We struck up a conversation from there and she gave me the opportunity to show my work,” Davis said.
Davis certainly isn’t new to having his work displayed for the public to see, but hopes that viewers come into his work with an open mind, and that they will also observe the art objectively.
“Anytime you show a new body of work, there’s always an element of nervousness when you wonder how the work will be perceived, if people like the work and if they understand the work… It’s always exciting and always a rush,” Davis said.
Davis has a way of helping the viewer become open-minded, and it comes through heavily in some of his work. Some of his pieces may be abstract and need to be thought out by the viewer, while other pieces are simply stunning to look at.
“I make work about beauty and mystery, about collection and humor. What I try to do is use humor in the work to disarm the viewer so that they will put their guard down and understand the sincere intentions of my work,” Davis said.
Davis received his bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Tennessee, and then went to Clemson University to receive his master’s degree. The type of work that Davis was accustomed to doing changed, however, in a residency.
“I was trained as a functional potter, working mainly on the pottery wheel. I was doing this at the University of Tennessee for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and then at Clemson for my master’s degree. I also had the opportunity to do a residency in Taiwan during my last year at Clemson, and [living there] really started to affect my work. When I came back, my work had shifted from pottery to sculpture,” Davis said.
Davis isn’t just a talented artist, though. He is also a very popular teacher at the college, and loves his job. Davis has some advice and words of wisdom to students who might be hesitant on taking classes in the art department.
“Here at JCCC, we have a great art department with great teachers. All of the teachers are working artists who have their work being displayed. That way, you’re not only being taught by our teachers, but also active artists in the community,” Davis said.
Davis’ gallery at the Plenum Space lasts until the 29th of August, but students have a variety of opportunities to view his work.
“I have a gallery coming up at the Epsten Gallery at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. I also have a website with all of my upcoming shows and new pieces of mine.”
You can check out pieces of Professor Sam Davis’ work and learn about upcoming shows of his at www.samueldavisart.com. To view Davis’ work at the Plenum Space, contact Ami Ayars and Jessie Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org.