Stepping into the world of an artist and experiencing their works first-hand is oftentimes an endeavor that seems out of reach. However, for campus and community members at Emporia State, seeing art on display is only a gallery away.
Emporia State's Norman R. Eppink Art Gallery in King Hall is hosting an art exhibit by Len Davis from Aug. 23 to Sept. 17.
"I like showing at universities and being able to interact with students and just assist with educating them from my point of view,” said Davis.
He interacted with students by helping them with different art projects while he was in Emporia and hosted multiple workshops over two days at the end of August.
“He likes to work with them one on one, that’s what I noticed,” said Roberta Eichenberg, director of the gallery and professor of art. "Rather than some people doing workshops (who) will demonstrate for the group and then let them loose, he would take each person and as they proceeded, as they went along in the workshop, he would help them at different stages individually.”
Many of artists tend to keep information to themselves, but “you can’t take it with you” according to Davis. That’s why he wants to keep sharing his knowledge and work with students.
Professor Kevin Rabas took his poetry writing class (EN385) to see the exhibit and they wrote ekphrastic poems what they saw.
“It’s always lovely to be able to go and write about art," said Rabas. "This exhibit has some kind of links to fantastical or superhero-like images and my students seemed to find that fun and exciting and some of them wrote their best poems of the semester to date about what they saw in the gallery, so it was an inspiration."
Davis originally sent a postcard to Eichenberg in 2008 asking if she was interested in showing his art, but was rejected largely due to the recession, according to Eichenburg. However, he kept trying and with persistence, he was able to have a show during the summer in 2012. Now, he’s back with his “colorful, vibrant, thought provoking, illustrative” works on display for ESU.
“I don’t usually respond to a whole lot of (those letters), but he was pretty persistent, he wasn’t gonna give up, that’s a good quality to have,” said Eichenberg. “And when he did his art forum (to) talk to the students, he brought in all his rejection letters, it was about a ream of paper, so that was really good for them to see because you do get rejected a lot like he said, if you can’t handle rejection or criticism you’re in the wrong field.”
With rejection can come a feeling of being unsure of yourself.
“I used to be that way,” said Davis. “Afraid to put myself out there, but you’ve got to remember the clock is ticking, so you just have to realize no one’s better than you (and) no one’s worse than you. You’re on the same level of playing field and just put yourself out there. When you do it, just don’t care about what others think.”
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Davis really started to find his passion for art after his 10th grade art teacher, Allan Edmunds, took his art class to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It was the year Marc Chagall (a Russian-French artist well known for works such as “I and the Village”) died and his life work was being shown.
“I was quite taken by the work,” Davis said. “And he was just explaining the background of each piece because he was just well educated in the arts, Allan Edmunds, and the very next day I just had that moment and so that’s when I wanted to be an artist, that very next day after that museum visit.”
Davis now lives in a one-bedroom apartment in North Hollywood that he converted into a studio. He works on the administrative side of this craft out of his bedroom.
“I’m at a point in my life I just like doing what I’m doing and whoever likes it will like it and who don’t they don’t,” said Davis.
According to his website, Davis's exhibit will be moved from the Norman R. Eppink Art Gallery on Sept. 17, he has exhibitions and workshops scheduled across the country through 2023.