In my work I attempt to present portraits that invite further exploration and investigation. I’m interested in paintings that provide the viewer with more information than meets the eye. The paintings in this series are meant to challenge the way we view people of color. These paintings are part of an ongoing series that also attempts to address, in a forward-thinking way, the lack of representation of African Americans on gallery walls. By looking into the past at artists, activists, and people who have experienced injustices, along with current artists and acquaintances of mine, I hope to renegotiate the way we view black faces on a daily basis. The repurposed wooden and three-dimensional elements represent enduring strength and the beauty that comes out of struggle. The aged wood, though rough and damaged, maintains its beauty, and recycling the wood for these paintings represent the struggle that African Americans have weathered over the years, while also representing the fortitude of the culture.
JEREMY OKAI DAVIS is a visual artist originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, currently residing in Portland, Oregon. His practice is influenced by popular culture, race relations, design, and portraiture. Each new body of work is a vehicle for exploring the qualities and flexibility of paint. His work has been included in exhibitions regionally and nationally, including Clackamas Community College’s Alexander Gallery; Portland State University’s White Gallery; Disjecta; The Studio Museum of Harlem in New York; Portland, Maine’s Able Baker Contemporary, and elsewhere. His work is permanently collected by Oregon State University, Oregon University’s Allen Hall & The Studio Museum. (@jeremy_okai)