I've been a sculptor all my life. As a child I entertained myself all day by building things, painting and drawing. When I went to art school I realized that I was a sculptor and that sculpture was an extension of the way I played as a child. I live and work in a remote, small town in central Utah. The landscape is a combination of rugged red rock cliff formations and high mountain desert terrain. The beauty and texture of this landscape has inspired me for years and has had a powerful influence on my work.
I've been working as a wood sculptor for 35 years and have developed my own way of working this beautiful material. My sculptures of animals involve a process of constant adding and subtracting blocks of wood until a complex, surprising surface is established. While building these blocks of color and pattern, I also work out the proportion and expression of the character. This process of building up and breaking down gives life to the character of the animals and creates an element of transformation.
I also have a love of beautiful complex mechanical objects. I am able to look at an object that appears infinitely complex and reduce it to one simple move at a time. Wood is the material that reveals the inherent beauty previously invisible in the subject.
It took me years to learn how to handle the freedom of water base clay but now I work with it very well and many of my bronzes are cast from it. Some of my bronzes have been cast directly from my wood sculptures. Some pieces are cast from a combination of both. For example, the legs of the dogs and the horses have been carved in wood and the bodies have been built in clay. A mold is then made from the prototype and cast in bronze.
THOUGHTS ABOUT HER WORK
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It's easy to see that the work of Silvia Davis is complex in many ways. When looking at one of her wooden cats, for example, I find myself trying to unravel the process of its creation. Each sculpture has a kind of geological memory of its making which is visible in the final form. The almost genetic shuffling and reshuffling of the many different shapes, colors and textures of the carved blocks of wood is all there for us to see, but is none the less very difficult to grasp in terms of its making. When looking at one of her cats a thought comes to me that may be similar to what Darwin may have thought when looking at a real cat. Which is: "How did this miracle come to be"? On a deeper level her work is a metaphor for those moments of awe, Which we all feel from time to time in the face of nature.
Complexity also exists in the expressive qualities of her work. Her animals are independent, sentient beings. They project an inner life, intelligence and dignity. They are calm with a strong balanced center. Yet they are not without mystery. They achieve a full measure of the depth of her identification with and feelings for her subjects.
In her recent wall sculptures, Silvia has begun to explore a whole new world of possibilities with still life. Think of an enchanted antique store in which objects, which normally have little or nothing to do with each other, find themsleves sharing the same shelf. The mind begins to spontaneously speculate on unexpected associations and connections. Why does the rabbit hold a key? Those teacups? What kind of party is this? It's a world of its own where big is small and small is big, and the every day context of ordinary reality is no longer required, where now anything goes and the imagination follows its own momentum.
1993 - M.F.A. Sculpture University of Utah
1980 - B.F.A. Sculpture University of Utah
1978 - Snowbird Summer Arts Institute
2012 - "Silvia Davis and Wendy Chidester" Two Person Show, Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
2008 - "Paul and Silvia Davis", Two Person Show, Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
2007 - Annual Spring Salon, Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah
2006 - Featured Artist, Group Show, Gallery "B", Lexington, Kentucky
2003 - "The Animal in Art"-A group exhibition, Utah Museum of Fine Arts
2002 - "Utah Art 2000" - Norman Building, Salt Lake City, Utah (Catalog Show)
2002 - "Women Without Borders" - Art Access Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah (Catalog Show)
2002 - "40 Eyes See" - Avenues Branch Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
2002 - "Animals, Animals" - Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
2000 - "Reinventing the West" - Kimball Art Center, Park City, Utah
2000 - "The Animal in Contemporary Art" - Stremmel Gallery, Reno, Nevada
1998 - Three Person Show - Torrey Gallery, Torrey, Utah
1997 - Three Person Show - Coda Gallery, Park City, Utah
1996 - One Person Show - Works in Wood & Bronze, Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah.
1994 - Sculpture for the Garden - Works in Bronze, Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah.
1993 - Faculty Show - Peterson Art Center
1993 - M.F.A. Graduate Thesis Show - Alvin Gittins Gallery, University of Utah
1992 - Invitational, "April Salon" - Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah
1991 - Invitational, "Artists of Salt Lake" - BYU Art Museum, Provo, Utah
1991 - Invitational, Utah Sculpture and Craft Show - Union Pacific Depot, Salt Lake City, Utah
1991 - "Toys by Artists" - Courtyard Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1991 - Group Exhibition - Dooly Gallery, Park City, Utah
1991 - "75 Years of the Salt Lake Art Center" - Salt Lake City, Utah
1990 - Two Person Show - Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
1990 - Group Exhibition, Sculpture - Pierpont Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1990 - "Collaborative Art" - Pierpont Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1989 - One Person Exhibition - Pierpont Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1988 - "Pierpont Tapestries" - Group Show, Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
1988 - "Local Motion" - Kinetic Group Show - Pierpont Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1988 - "Wreaths by Artists", Group Show - Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
1987 - 'The Best of the Loge", Group Show - Loge Gallery, Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake City, Utah
1986 - Two Person Exhibit - Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1985 - "North American Sculpture Exhibition", Juried Exhibition-Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado
1985 - "Henry Moore with 6 Utah Sculptors" - Phillips Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1984 - "Women Artists of Utah", Invitational - Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah
1984 - "Utah 84", Juried Exhibit - Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
1984 - One Person Show - Loge Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1983 - "Utah 83", Juried Exhibit - Salt Lake Art Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
1983 - "North American Sculpture Exhibition" - Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado
1982 - "April Salon", Juried Exhibit - Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah
1983 - North American Sculpture Award, North American Sculpture Exhibition - Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado
2008 - Sculptor for "A Light in the Piazza" Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake City, Utah
2005 - Sculptor for "Peter Pan', Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake City, Utah
2004 - Sculptor for Showtime Channel, "The Maldonado Miracle"
2004 - Sculptor for Disney Channel, "Don’t Look Under the Bed"
2003 - Present Private Workshops sculpting the Human Head in clay
1999 - Pioneer Theater Company, Sculpture for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"
1999 - Houston Grand Opera Company, Monumental Figure sculpture for "A Little Night Music"
1997 - Utah Opera Company, Nine larger than life figure sculptures for "Coronation of Popea"
1995 -1996 - Sculptor for Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City, Utah
1993 - Present Instructor, Petersen Art Center, Life Drawing & Sculpture
1994 - Instructor, Woodworking, University of Utah
1994 - Sculptor, Consultant, Edwards and Daniels Architects
1993 - Architectural Relief Sculpture for Lowell Construction, Eric Smith Architect
1984 -1985 - Sculptor, Fossil Preparator and Casting Technician, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, North American Ice Age Mammals Exhibit
1988 - Instructor, Sculpture University of Utah
1994 - Wood Sculpture of St. Elizabeth for St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Richfield, Utah
1994 - Percent for Art, Life size Firefighter carved in mahogany for Fire Station, Salt Lake City, Utah
1992 - Liturgical work, St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Richfield, Utah. Sculptures of the Stations of the Cross
1992 - Collaborative Designer and Sculptor for Public Block 57 Project, Salt Lake City, Utah. Works in Bronze and Cast Iron
1992 - Percent for Arts Project, Public Sculpture for Fairmont and Warm Springs Parks, Salt Lake City, Utah. Bronze
1992 - Percent for Arts Project, Interior Sculpture for Arts Council Offices. Wood Sculpture
1991 - Interior Wood Sculpture commissioned by FFKR Architecture for University of Utah Genetic Engineering and Research Building
1988 - Collaborative Designer and Sculptor for Pierpont Gallery, Salt Lake City, Utah
1988 - Sculptor for "Pierpont Walkway", Bronze
1987 - Commission by The Sundance Institute for the U.S. Film Festival. Interior Wood Mechanical Sculpture