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collections > permanent collections > drawings >William D. Davis
William D. Davis
(American, 1936-2003)
Indestructible Object from Ecology and Debris Series, n.d., c. 1990s
Graphite on paper, 23 1/4” x 38”
Gift of Shirley Zampelli Sturtz-Davis (2009.030)

In the work of William D. Davis, spontaneity and precision merge into dreamlike compositions of great complexity.  Large drawings such as the Museum’s Indestructible Object typically began with a few random strokes which would suggest the outlines of an idea to the artist.  Working with the images that came to mind, Davis then built up his drawing with graphite, adding more or erasing as his concept changed.  Of Indestructible Object, Davis wrote that he borrowed the title from Surrealist Man Ray.  The drawing itself is surreal, and as Davis noted, it is made up of “a dense collection of real and imagined images.” Although Indestructible Object suggests deep personal exploration, Davis asserted that “the main ingredient in my drawings is the love of the process of drawing and using graphite pencils from 9H to 8B in order to develop a wide range of values and tactile surfaces.”

Davis, who died in 2003, was a native of Erie, Pennsylvania. He studied art education at Edinboro University and earned the degree of MFA from Pennsylvania State University.  Most of his career was spent teaching and making art in his home state, and at the time of his death, he had just retired from an assistant professorship at Shippensburg University.  Davis exhibited his work widely, and won a number of awards for both his drawings and prints.