Israel Davis 1

Bede Clarke and students watch Davis's presentation.

Israel Davis, an assistant professor at the Kendall College of Art and Design and a professional ceramics artist and philanthropist, wants to use his art and profession to help those around him. 

Davis gave a special lecture to ceramics students on Tuesday with visiting artist and professor Bede Clarke. 

The talk was preceded by a ceramics workshop where Davis, alongside professor Bede Clarke, a ceramic artist from the University of Missouri, were able to work with the small group of student artists and show their techniques.

“I touch the clay probably about a thousand times,” Clarke said. “It’s all about how the pottery feels to me as I’m making it.”

The two guest artists were also able to exchange notes while the students recorded the presentation for later study.

“I’m so happy to be here with Bede,” Davis said before he began his lecture. “He’s incredible and I’m honored to share this time with him.”

Davis’s lecture was an open window into his life. His work, which is a cross between printmaking and ceramics, in large part portrayed images of his family and friends.

“My work starts as a picture of what’s important to me,” Davis said, showing a photo of a pair of young girls bathing in a tub. Davis took that photo and made layers of drawings on Adobe Photoshop. The image was then printed out and — with heat, vacuum pressure and acrylic — transformed into a stencil.

“I hand-paint the pictures on the clay after stenciling in the image,” Davis said. “Most artists would work in layers of clay and paint, but I prefer the personal process of painting the image by hand.”

After Davis explained his process, he did something unexpected, prompting stunned gasps from the audience: He began to sing.

He sang the lyrics to his own song that touched on the briefness of life and the joy he finds in those around him. The song was accompanied by a video that featured his young daughters playing on drums, as well as photos of his good friends.

When he was done, he showed works from his organization, FUNFALIFE: Fundamental Formative Arts, which aims to “promote the active pursuit of a creative lifestyle through art, culture, skateboarding, and BMX biking,” according to the website.

Davis encouraged the students to get involved in their communities and to find and way to make good with their art.

 — Edited by Miranda Davis 

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