Born in Jacksonville, Florida Don Davis got an early start in art working in clay at the Children’s Museum at the age of six and then oil painting with his mother at the age of eight. As the son of a Naval Officer his childhood was spent traveling and growing up in various locations including Florida, Italy, Virginia, California and Hawaii. These early experiences nurtured a lifelong interest in ancient culture and art. Most of his adult life has been spent away from his home state but he and his family have recently moved back and set up a home and studio in Flagler Beach. He received his MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and BFA from University of Florida. Most of his career (1976-2001) has been as a full time studio artist working in Asheville, N.C. From 1994-1996 he was hired to set up and serve as the initial director of Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts in Asheville and then as a university professor of art from 1999 - 2015.
He is the author of Wheel Thrown Ceramics, published in 1998, and republished in 2017. His work is included in numerous other books including Handbuilt Ceramics by Kathy Triplet, The Craft & Art of Clay by Susan Peterson and in magazines including Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, & American Craft. His writing includes an article co-written for Etruscan Studies, The Journal of the Etruscan Foundation describing the replica Etruscan Kiln that Davis & crew designed, built, and fired at Castello Spannocchia, Italy in 2010.
His work is included in the collections of Rhode Island School of Design, Asheville Art Museum, International Museum of Ceramics in Alfred, N.Y., The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC and Shirikawa Public Hall, Japan. His work appears in numerous exhibitions in the U.S. and has also been exhibited in Japan, Italy, and Holland. Don has also been commissioned to make pieces for films including ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ .
Teaching workshops conducted include La Meridiana, Italy, Castello Spannocchia, Italy, Atelier Cirkel, Brasschaat, Belgium, The Virginia Museum, Penland School, NC State University, and University of S.C.
Symposium presentations include ‘Craft & Art in Ancient Etruria’ at Syracuse University in Florence, Italy and The National Council on Ceramic Arts Conference in Portland, Oregon.
He has been awarded invitational artist’s residencies at Studio Art Centers International, Florence Italy and at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
CONDENSED STATEMENT: Don R Davis
My ongoing dedication to clay work is due to an enduring love for the material and the processes of forming and firing it. I cannot think of anything better to do. My first ceramic love was early American folk pottery, then Mediterranean, and Asian influences. For many years my work focused on vessel oriented wheel thrown porcelain. The duality indicated by the play between interior and exterior treatments keeps me constantly intrigued. More recently I am drawn to the most ancient forms, especially Jomon, Minoan, Etruscan, and prehistoric European. Hand built sculptural forms, figurative elements, and low temp techniques have now also become a major part of my creative output, inspired by my studies of ancient cultures and collaborations in experimental archaeology. While inspired by the ancients, I am also influenced by the environment around me and choose to let my work take it’s own contemporary direction as a cooperative effort between myself, the clay, and the fire.