Heather Jo Davis, MFA '17: creating social commentary through visual art
Ceramics artist Heather Jo Davis, MFA '17 champions the value and preservation of wilderness areas.
- Year: Class of 2017
- Program: MFA in Artisanry: Ceramics
- Hometown: Jesup, GA
- Previous degrees: BS in Biology, BA in Studio Art, Mercer University
- Leadership: Graduate Student Senate
Exploring how the individual intersects with culture
It’s my job as an artist to take datalogical information and translate it into emotional information—to observe how the individual intersects with culture and to create social commentary through visual art. More and more studies are showing that levels of anxiety, depression and discontent are rising, and that spending even a short amount of time in a natural setting can lower stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.
Many of us are stuck in offices without the privilege of a window, and many of us continue to spend our weekends with the screen. Because of this self-imposed separation from nature, there is an imbalance in Western culture that favors the use of our surroundings for material resources rather than spiritual or restorative experiences. With my work, I intend to strengthen the perceived value of wilderness areas, to encourage preserving these areas, and immersing ourselves within them as often as possible for our emotional and psychological well-being.
Growth as an artist & an individual
Being a grad student at the CVPA has been very stressful, as anyone would expect grad school to be. Instead of complaining, I just say "hashtag gradschool" and try to laugh if off. I've grown an enormous amount as an artist and a person, which I owe to my colleagues and my mentors. I've appreciated every minute of being here.
CVPA faculty: reputation for excellence
Before applying, I connected with the artwork of several UMassD professors, both inside and outside of my specification of ceramics. Both of the professors in my program are actively involved in the close-knit ceramics community in addition to the wider art world. Because each of them are highly respected in their field, I knew that I would enter the job market a step ahead with a degree from UMassD on my resume.
Graduate Student Senate: creating a community
My fellow senators have been wonderful. An artist's life is about introspection and self-evaluation, and it has the potential to become myopic. Serving on the Senate, and being part of a group that seeks to build community, strengthen bonds, and help others, has shifted my attention from personal worries to wider social concerns, and has pulled me out of my own head, almost like a refugee being pulled ashore from the stormy sea. I don't think I missed a single meeting because I knew we would laugh together and appreciate each other.
Gaining inspiration from teaching others
Currently, I plan to make a career out of academia, teaching ceramics, foundations, or sculpture in the university system. Teaching others inspires me. I hope it will be a part of my professional life for many years to come.