Emerging artist Becci (pronounced Becky) Davis explores race and gender identity issues through performance art. I liked the idea of inviting Davis to my studio so we could have a conversation about her work, share art perspectives as colleagues and discuss the trajectory of her career. She was still reeling, in a good way, from the opportunities and responsibilities afforded to her as a recipient of multiple artist awards in 2018 and was in the midst of finishing up an intense work cycle that brought to fruition a number of interactive projects completed
roughly over the span of a year.
Davis received the New Genres Individual Artist Fellowship from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and she won The Emerging Artist Award from the Saint Botolph Club Foundation, Boston in 2018. She also received a Providence Public Library Creative Fellowship and RISD Museum’s yearlong Artist Fellowship Award, which is
nearing completion. The stipends attached collectively resulted for Davis in a windfall amount of just under $20,000. She spent much of the money on travel, research and on the development of four art actions communicating Revisionist/Interventionist ethos.
One of her actions took place in Georgia, where she was raised. She created a set of performances across eight different cities urging county, state and federal government officials to remove their Confederate Civil War memorials from public parks. This overture met with little bureaucratic interest but was nonetheless an interesting project. Casting herself as a contemporary storyteller, her action conceptually aligned walking sculpture and mail art with the non-violent protest initiatives of the American Civil Rights Movement. She asked for the removal of Confederate monuments in locales where she had lived because their presence negated black identity. Her art actions included a polite hand-written letter campaign conducted while sitting at the base of each monument. The letters were later mailed, completing the cycle. Because of the social climate in America today, it was imperative, in her view, to participate in a conversation about race now. In her letters, she matter-of-factly explained that when walking past these monuments as a person of color, she often feels erasure; a sense of being driven away rather than accepted. Her project, “In the Shadow of Dixie,” plied social divides presenting the alternative of inclusivity.
Her second and related art action of 2018 sought to expand a dialogue in Rhode Island in relation to the statue of Rhode Island’s Union hero General Ambrose Burnside on horseback.