A Visual Conversation With Nature
by Alexandra Tursi
Cameron Davis is a painter and senior lecturer at the University of Vermont. Her work includes paintings, installations and community art projects exploring the human-nature relationship. Her paintings are currently on view in Burlington at the Robert Hull Fleming Museum, University of Vermont Medical Center and Burlington International Airport.
Alexandra Tursi: Why did you become an artist?
Cameron Davis: I have a childhood memory of twirling round and round while the wind danced through these huge white pines and feeling a sense of presence. I have been trying to engage with that presence through my painting ever since. That day, I made up a song. I came inside, picked the notes out on the piano and wrote the notation. It is my first memory (at 6 or 7 years old) of making the connection between an experience and the impulse to create something that reflects on the experience.
How is the mystery of nature captured in your work?
I wouldn’t say mystery or nature “is captured” but rather I might say I am in a very visual conversation with the notions of nature, mystery, material paint, color, space, and metaphor. I think about consciousness and the new sciences as forming cultural frameworks that reweave relational and participatory ecological perspectives in light of these critical times.
The studio process freewheels around these concepts and the use of various imagery and sources including Hindu/yogic practices, Buddhism, Old Greek, Earth-based traditions, esoteric Christianity and superficial ideas about Quantum physics. These are paired with abstraction that corresponds to the felt and sensed. In this way, I attempt to address the permeable nature of inner and outer, and our perceptual immersion within a living whole. Fundamentally, the paintings feel like love songs to Earth and the cosmos.
What is the painting process like for you?
I use what we commonly call “nature” imagery, though all existence is arguably nature, through photo projections and overlapping tracings. They become the melodic line, or the basis of an improvisational practice. When I build a painting, I am orchestrating space, focal points and the references to
the sensuous world from projected photos.