Len Davis grew up in West Philadelphia, where the only art he ever saw was the graffiti on the walls and subway cars. Even though he was interested in art, he knew graffiti was not for him.
Last Tuesday, Davis’ exhibition, “A Thousand Words” opened in the Art Gallery at Rusteberg Hall on the Brownsville campus.
“When I reached high school, I took all the art courses and weekend drawing classes that were free,” he said in his artist statement. “When [I] got to 10th grade, my high school teacher, Allen Edmonds, took our art class of seven to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. … That’s when I truly got exposed to fine art. … That was the moment I wanted to be an artist.”
Davis graduated from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., where he majored in communications with a minor in art after being rejected by the school of art.
“Stay focused on what you’re doing, never lose sight,” the Los Angeles resident told The Rider in an interview during the opening reception. “The day you think it’s hopeless, that’s when you’re truly tested.”
Davis’ exhibition consists of 100 8-by-5-inch collages incorporated with drawings of people’s faces. One third of the exhibition is hosted on the UTRGV Brownsville campus, while the other pieces are on exhibit in Utah and Pennsylvania.
“They’re intimate, but there’s a light going on in each individual piece,” he said.
Gallery Coordinator Alejandro Macias is excited to have an L.A. artist visiting and exhibiting his work at UTRGV.
“I can’t remember the last time we actually had or if ever we had a L.A. artist, so it’s really exciting for me personally to have someone from the West Coast come and visit and show here,” Macias said.
He said he sees a lot of students trying to incorporate collages in their own work and seeing Davis’ exhibition will benefit them just by looking at the work.
“I think collage is so underrated,” Macias said. “You often don’t see a lot of exhibitions that are as consistent as this, so I think it’s important for students also to see this type of consistency.”
Art Lecturer Patrick Fatica said Davis’ work is intricate and detailed.
“When you think of collage, often people maybe don’t really understand the levels that you can take collage,” Fatica said. “It’s almost like his memories. It’s a very powerful work.”
Macias encourages students to stop by the art gallery and learn about the visiting artists.
“What do you have to lose? There is no fee and it’s open to the public,” he said.
The exhibition will run until Oct. 27.
For more information about exhibits on the Brownsville campus, email Macias at firstname.lastname@example.org.