St. Louis artist Damon Davis’ powerful exhibition ‘Negrophilia’ opening Feb. 16 at Galley 210

Damon Davis' "Negrophilia"

St. Louis artist Damon Davis’ exhibition “Negrophilia” is scheduled to open Feb. 16 at Gallery 210 with such works as “Negrophilia No. 46,” a mixed media piece produced in 2014-15. (Image courtesy of Damon Davis; Photo collage by Joan Barnidge)

Gallery 210 at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is set to showcase the work of St. Louis artist Damon Davis with the upcoming exhibition “Damon Davis: Negrophilia,” which opens with a presentation and public reception with the artist beginning at 4 p.m. Feb. 16 in the auditorium.

Davis, a trans-media artist, earned attention for his work “All Hands on Deck” as well as the documentary “Whose Streets,” the Sundance documentary about the civil unrest in Ferguson that he co-directed with Sabaah Folayan.

“Negrophilia,” which will remain at Gallery 210 until May 11, should add to that acclaim. The mixed media drawings are his personal, meditative and therapeutic tool for dealing with the constant stress he’s felt in the face of what he sees an obsessive fascination with black death in American culture.

“Even in my personal life, I have some family members who are very ill, so everywhere I go I’m seeing black people die,” Davis told Art Journal Open. “I don’t meet up with my family unless we’re at a hospital. I don’t see my friends unless somebody died and we have to go out into the street. That’s it, all the time.”

“Negrophilia” addresses the intrusiveness of looking at black people dying and the effects on both the oppressor and the oppressed psyche.

“It’s a powerful series, but it’s not bright or sunny,” Davis told Art Journal Open. “It’s not trying to alleviate pain, but rather basking in it for a second to understand that it’s a natural thing to be in pain. Without it, you wouldn’t even know when you’re having a good time.”

“Damon’s commitment to truth-telling through his art is one of his most outstanding attributes,” Gallery 210 Director Terry Suhre said, “and his artwork is going to soon be seen on a wider stage across the country.”

Davis grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, but moved across the river to attend Saint Louis University, graduating in 2007. He’s been living and working in south St. Louis for much of the past decade.

He has participated in exhibitions nationally, including “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of Black Imagination” at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, New York; “RESPOND” at Smack Mellon in New York; “All Rise” at Princeton University; and “Manifest Justice” in Los Angeles; as well local exhibitions “Counterpublic” at The Luminary, “ALTrs” at the Kranzberg Arts Center, “NEUE FORM” at the Hoffman LaChance Contemporary gallery, “Daytime Observatory” at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, “Wailing Wall” on Delmar Boulevard and “Empire State” at the Concrete Ocean Art Gallery.

“Negrophilia” is made possible through the generous support of the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency, and The School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Center for the Humanities at UMSL.

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