Silvia and friend Banjo    

     I've been a sculptor all my life. As a child I entertained myself all day by building things, painting and drawing. When I went to art school I realized that I was a sculptor and that sculpture was an extension of the way I played as a child. I live and work in a remote, small town in central Utah. The landscape is a combination of rugged red rock cliff formations and high mountain desert terrain. The beauty and texture of this landscape has inspired me for years and has had a powerful influence on my work.

     I've been working as a wood sculptor for 35 years and have developed my own way of working this beautiful material. My sculptures of animals involve a process of constant adding and subtracting blocks of wood until a complex, surprising surface is established. While building these blocks of color and pattern, I also work out the proportion and expression of the character. This process of building up and breaking down gives life to the character of the animals and creates an element of transformation.

     I also have a love of beautiful complex mechanical objects. I am able to look at an object that appears infinitely complex and reduce it to one simple move at a time. Wood is the material that reveals the inherent beauty previously invisible in the subject.

     It took me years to learn how to handle the freedom of water base clay but now I work with it very well and many of my bronzes are cast from it.  Some of my bronzes have been cast directly from my wood sculptures.  Some pieces are cast from a combination of both. For example, the legs of the dogs and the horses have been carved in wood and the bodies have been built in clay. A mold is then made from the prototype and cast in bronze.

Silvia Davis

                                                     THOUGHTS ABOUT HER WORK

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     It's easy to see that the work of Silvia Davis is complex in many ways. When looking at one of her wooden cats, for example, I find myself trying to unravel the process of its creation. Each sculpture has a kind of geological memory of its making which is visible in the final form. The almost genetic shuffling and reshuffling of the many different shapes, colors and textures of the carved blocks of wood is all there for us to see, but is none the less very difficult to grasp in terms of its making. When looking at one of her cats a thought comes to me that may be similar to what Darwin may have thought when looking at a real cat. Which is: "How did this miracle come to be"? On a deeper level her work is a metaphor for those moments of awe, shich we all feel from time to time in the face of nature.

      Complexity also exists in the expressive qualities of her work. Her animals are independent, sentient beings. They project an inner life, intelligence and dignity. They are calm with a strong balanced center. Yet they are not without mystery. They achieve a full measure of the depth of her identification with and feelings for her subjects.

      In her recent wall sculptures, Silvia has begun to explore a whole new world of possibilities with still life. Think of an enchanted antique store in which objects, which normally have little or nothing to do with each other, find themsleves sharing the same shelf. The mind begins to spontaneously speculate on unexpected associations and connections. Why does the rabbit hold a key? Those teacups? What kind of party is this? It's a world of its own where big is small and small is big, and the every day context of ordinary reality is no longer required, where now anything goes and the imagination follows its own momentum.


Paul Davis

Professor Emeritus

University of Utah