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 Virginia Davis  (20/21st century)

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Lived/Active: California      Known for: abstract image painting, fiber art

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
After studying art in London and at the Art Students League in New York, Virginia Davis has had her work in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally.  She uses ikat, a technique of applying color to threads before they are woven into a textile, not only for the dimension it gives her work, but also for its historical and ethnographic aspects.

She teaches, lectures and writes on this and other subjects.  Her awards include an Indo-American Fellowship to India, two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, two individual Visual Artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, NEA sponsored residences at the Cité International des Artes in Paris and in Mexico City, and most recently, a grant from the Ruth Chenven Foundation.

In addition to private collections, her work is in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of North Dakota, and Hewlett-Packard.

A Unique Approach

Virginia Davis applies paint or dye directly to the linen threads and then weaves them into a linen canvas which is similar to purchasable painters canvas.  This technique enables color and image to be embedded in the woven structure and locked inside the canvas. Thus, painting and weaving are materially linked.  This comments on the materials of art, referencing the 16th century transition from images realized in fresco or on wood to painting on fabric (oil on linen).  The image is below the picture plane and inside the canvas in her deconstructed paintings. Formally, the work explores optical aspects of vision and nuances of value contrast. Color reflects light differently depending on whether it is placed in the warp or weft. The representation of space occurs through color overlay. There is a play of edge, hard and feathered. Theme and variation interact and cumulate. From a perspective of post-modern minimalism, her work presents as its content the beauty, meditative quality, and optical nuance of form inherent in the imagery of the structure of textiles. In another direction, with linen canvas and its embedded image the basic field, she is incorporating a layering of surfaces, e.g. oil painting on the surface, and using "non-traditional" materials such as paper and plastic collage. A current aim is a woven amalgam of complex weave structure and canvas resulting in a surface that is unique with resulting contrast of surface pigment application and embedded color.


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