Social activist Damon Davis holds Q&A
When Damon Davis came to The Pub to discuss his activism and art, the conversations that were had between Davis and individual audience members were informative, genuine, and unfiltered. Davis made it his business to make it clear to the audience that he is an everyday man using his platform for a greater good. The Q&A was held on Feb. 28, and was organized by the Nanook Diversity and Action Center.
“We have to rearrange the way we think about things. What I want for my life isn’t the same thing that you want for your life. What I want is freedom. Everyone has a different idea of what freedom is. We need to move from a place of scarcity and towards the idea of abundance,” Davis said.
In addition to being an activist, Davis is a filmmaker, musician and uses all of his talents to propel his voice within his community to raise awareness against injustice and police brutality.
“I come from a poor black community,” Davis continued. “People have to rely on each other to survive. Rich people are isolated; they go to work and they drive into their garages and they don’t talk to each other. There is enough to go around, but you are taught that isn’t the case. The minorities are the people that have everything.”
Davis favors abstract, childlike art forms, such as cubism and neo-impressionism. He listed his artistic and musical influences as George Condo, Basquiat, Picasso, Jay Z, David Bowie, and Kanye West.
“When I began as an activist I focused on gaining empathy and getting people to understand where I come from. I eventually learned that empathy doesn’t matter to people that have everything. So I learned to stop focusing on those people. I speak directly to my community. We go too far trying to cast a huge net that you think everyone is going to understand. Instead of thinking of things on a huge macro level, get micro as you possibly can,” Davis stated.
He faced activism head-on following the death of VonDerrit Myers in St. Louis, Missouri. He then participated in the Ferguson protests that took place following the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. These specific protests gave him the strength to continue to use his voice and artwork to speak out and step up. Following the protest, he began making art for raising awareness towards police brutality and racial social justice.
All Hands On Deck
All Hands On Deck is an art project Davis created during a period of sustained protest known as Ferguson October. He photographed multiple people in Ferguson, Missouri with their hands up, the gesture of Michael Brown before his death.
“Activism depends on if you are someone who believes in speaking up because there are a lot of people that don’t. If you are someone who wants to make a change, do something that you are good at. I’m talented in art, so that is what I did,” Davis said.
The posters were hung to beautify the landscape of the buildings that were boarded up following damage done during the public unrest. This was made to send a message of peaceful protest and boost community morale.
A few of the remaining posters can be viewed today at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego.
Damon is currently working on a solo art show for June 8, and a film project about a friend who has been on death row for 20 years for a crime he didn’t commit. The film that he co-directed and produced “Whose Streets” is set to be screened on PBS later this year.
Davis continued, “The reason why evil gets to happen is because there are so many people in the middle that sit quietly. Whatever you do you should get involved and use it to make someone’s life easier. People that sit by are much more dangerous than everyone else.”
For more information about the artist and updates on his activism and latest projects, visit his website at https://heartacheandpaint.com/ or follow @heartachenpaint on Twitter, or @damondavis on Instagram.
To view his TED talk “Courage is contagious” that was screened in The Pub visit https://www.ted.com/talks/damon_davis_what_i_saw_at_the_ferguson_protests