Tavin Joel Davis

Tavin Davis is an emerging contemporary artist currently living in Bozeman Montana. His work is exhibiting internationally, in galleries and museums alike. Davis's work is frequently featured in print and digital publications and as such has recently been gaining the interest of the wider public. Davis's work focuses on the critique and reflection of the social issues and reality seen within contemporary U.S. culture. His vast array of subject matter attempts to confront his viewers with the specific aim of provoking reflective thought and conversation on the topics he chooses to present. 

The work is an investigation that comments on and critiques socio-political topics found within contemporary U.S. culture. The attempt and intention of these subversive works is to provoke conversation, thought, and shock. Confronting viewers with challenging subject matter, which is loaded with reflection, accountability, and questions, these works act as tools that cut through vales and reveal what may be hiding behind them. Begging for honesty, truth, and critical thought, the work creates a dialog and as such may provoke within its viewers a conscious or unconscious shift in perception. If even one critical question can be acknowledged through the image by its viewer, then the image has served within the spectrum of its utility, and as such, has served within the utility of art.


When did you decide to become an artist? Tell us a little bit about your creative journey so far.

I honestly wasn't sure I wanted to be involved with any kind of art until I was about 17. I grew up in the blue-collar state of Montana and because of that, I had never thought art to be a serious practice. I had been interested on a surface level in philosophy for a long time and once I found out philosophy and art were one in the same, it was game on. I had this realization when I had first started college and immediately dropped from the business program I was in and moved over to the art department. Since then, it has been everything I both did and couldn't have possibly expected.  

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What inspires the imagery in your work? When did you start incorporating political interests into your paintings? 

I would like to say that much of my imagery is inspired by pop culture, pop culture attitudes, and the reality of contemporary U.S. culture. It is sort of a reaction to Pop Art and Pop culture and really is attempting to bring a sense of reality and accountability to the surface. I started to bring this political interest into my practice around 2016. I had found huge inspirations from that of Andres Serrano and decided to start bringing that side of thinking into the mix of things. This lead to a work of mine I've entitled "Dirty Cloth" and has pushed me forward to further investigating the social fabric of contemporary U.S. culture.

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What is an important aspect of your work that you want the viewer to be aware of? 

I am constantly hoping that the viewer takes a moment to not just visually explore the work but ask critical questions about the concept and subject matter presented. Questions regarding the juxtaposition of objects in space, the background textures, the titles, and most importantly to ask questions about the concepts. All aspects are full of intention and meaning and are begging for a chance to open up. My paintings tend to be more direct and assertive in their efforts to communicate but may installation and sculptural works are a bit more subtle and because of that I think really asking questions of the concept, subjects, and titles are most the most critical things I would hope a viewer to be aware of. 

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Share your thoughts on art and activism. What do you think creatives need to contribute more of to help create change in our society? 

I think art and activism can certainly mix. I would probably say that a large job of art is to bring a sense of reflection to the table. Reflecting directly and reacting to the reality of society. Art has had its hands in the realm of social activism for a long time and it certainly can have an effect on culture. Because of this, I think creatives should make use of their talents to reflect life and bring these reflections to the eyes of the public in a way that takes these subjects out of the bland context of the every day and presents it through a fresh lens.

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Describe a typical day in the studio. How does each piece come together?

The studio is a bit of an intense space both mentally and physically. Much of my time is spent thinking about the work of future works to come. Talking myself into or out of ideas and wrestling with decisions to make or not to make. To carry on or not to carry on with an idea. A lot of pacing happens. There is a hallway in my studio that has a worn line down its wood flooring simply from pacing back and forth so often. I find thinking to be easier when I am talking to myself and moving. Movement generates thought for me and I think forces my brain to shift from stagnant to productive. Kind of like a car or something like that. Working when it is moving and resting when it is not. Yeah, definitely something like that.

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Name a few of your favorite artists and influences. 

My major influences have been Marcel Duchamp, Martin Creed, Andres Serrano, Banksy, Andy Warhol, and most certainly John Baldessari. The artists really working in a conceptualist sort of way have always been inspirational to me. I think conceptual art is the purest form of art because it has less formal attributes to abide by and typically tends to lend itself to the mercy of the idea at hand instead of the making of a well-crafted painting or sculpture. It has a way of involving the mind and not just the eyes that has a very appealing touch to me. 


What do you have in the works this year?

This year is messy. I am preparing for solo exhibitions around the U.S., preparing for a group exhibition in Cuba in May, painting 4 commissioned murals for my college Montana State University, and trying my best to keep up with my school work. With all of this going on, making is definitely still in the front seat but does take more effort to stay focused and motivated. I guess the biggest thing for this year is going to be trying to expand outwards as much as I possibly can and to get my work in front of a wider audience via exhibitions.