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Damon Davis Biography

In 2014, Michael Brown was murdered by police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson Missouri. Protests and push back spread across America and gave rise to Black Lives Matter movement.

Among the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri was an artist, multi-disciplinarian, Damon Davis. His images of hands, wheat pasted on boarded-up buildings were a sign of solidarity and a simple message that the businesses (forced by insurance companies to “board up or lose coverage”) were open and supported by the community.

In 2015, I found Damon and, after some discussion, we decided we should print the hands – they were historic and I thought should be preserved and (without a better description) put into a fine art permanence. The prints were made for the street. The powerful message transforms “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” into a longer conversation toward a better future, one that can be built only when everyone has a hand in it, Damon’s brilliant and generous vision. The world of fine art, for better or worse, is not often confronted by social justice.

All Hands on Deck, seven images of people in a moment of time, morphs the necessary urgency and the anger of “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” into a longer conversation, one that retains the edge, but points to the hopeful belief that it will take all of us to resolve this. And I believe that All Hands on Deck – in all its manifestations – takes its place in the powerful, egalitarian history of print, embracing the very essence and function of print. Tell the story. Tell it fast. Repeat.

Maryanne Ellison Simmons
July 2015

Damon Davis is an award-winning post-disciplinary artist who works and resides in St. Louis, Missouri. His work spans across illustration, painting, printmaking, music, film, and public art. His solo exhibition, Darker Gods in the Garden of Low Hanging Heavens premiered in St. Louis in 2018, later traveling to Art Basel Miami 2018. Davis has work in the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts and the San Diego Contemporary Museum of Art. For the documentary short A Story To Tell (2013), which profiled Davis, his work, and the creative process, Davis won an Emmy Award Mid-America for Best Short Form Program. His work has been nominated for Critics’ Choice Award, Gotham Award, and NAACP Image Award; Filmmaker Magazine selected him and Director Sabaah Folayan for their “25 New Faces of Independent Film 2016” for their work on critically acclaimed documentary Whose Streets?, chronicling the Ferguson rebellion of 2014. Davis is a 2015 Firelight Media Fellow, a 2016 Sundance Music and Sound Design Lab Fellow, a TED Fellow (2017), and a Root100 Honoree (2017). Kennedy Center/ Citizen Artist Fellow

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