An artist is one who uses ordinary, elemental materials to create the extraordinary. Local artist, Heather Clement Davis, recently returned to the Astoria area after twenty years of travel, study, and creating art. After many years away from her childhood home, Heather Clement Davis, moved from New Mexico where she and her art had prospered in the southwestern environs of Santa Fe. Her desire in returning to the Pacific Northwest was both personal and professional. She came here to take time to explore new dimensions of her art. Through her studies in archaeology, art therapy, and the fine arts, Heather Clement Davis has learned to transform her experiences, perceptions, and visions into strikingly beautiful art. She is an accomplished painter, sculptor, jeweler, and visionary artist.
On Sunday, April 1, 2012, Heather Clement Davis’ latest work opens as the featured exhibit at Street 14 Cafe in Astoria. Located at the corner of 14th and Commercial in the heart of downtown Astoria, Street 14 Cafe is also hosting an Artist’s Reception for Davis as part of April’s Second Saturday Art Walk on Saturday, April 14 from 6:00-8:00; a collection of pieces that represent the transformational changes, and the artistic development of the artist herself.
About Heather Clement Davis’ art. As artists and writers do, Heather has held down a number of ‘day’ jobs over the years to support her art. Her website, creativityunearthed.com, opens the doors to many of the facets of Heather Clement Davis’ artistic expression. I recently visited Heather in her studio, set up in a sunny, airy corner of the home she shares with her husband, Jason. As her website title suggests, Heather approaches her art through the transformative nature of what it is to be an artist and person in motion, in process, and in relationship with all elements of life.
Standing in a paint-splattered smock, Davis points out that she looks for ways to repurpose everything. “This smock was part of my uniform when I was a flight attendant. I kept it because I knew it had another function, another purpose, and now it’s an indispensable part of my art. That’s what I like to do…to find new ways to use what has been a part of the past.” At the same time her utilitarian artist’s smock symbolizes the practical aspect of her art, her artistic flair is evident in her signature colorful scarves, beautiful, stylistic jewelry she creates and wears, and her use of color in dress, makeup, as well as all aspects of her art. She reveals a light-hearted and whimsical nature, while maintaining rapt attention to form, detail, and creative movement in her artwork.
As Davis unrolled some oil canvases she had recently brought back from New Mexico, she talked about how she understood the contrasts from her older art and the art that seems to be emerging in her most recent work her on the Northwest Oregon coast. “Each of these pieces represents a different point of my life, of my art…I look at some of the older pieces [she said pointing to a beautiful oil rich in blue and purple swirls] and I see something I love…other pieces, like this [pointing to a lighter piece that she discovered had been cracked in the move], and I never really liked it. Others liked it a lot, but I never did…an now it’s cracked and broken.”
About another piece, a self-portrait, Davis remarked, “And then there are those pieces that never seem to be done…maybe it won’t be finished…it’s reached a point where I stopped working on it, and it remains, undone…in transition.” She held her attention on this piece for a very long time, and then rolled it up saying, “I notice that I no longer like something that I’d worked on for a long time…and maybe really loved doing, but now, it doesn’t speak to me…it doesn’t seem to be right for me any more. It’s something to set aside so that when it’s ready to move to the next stage, it’s organic. And like anything organic, it rots, it grows, it goes dormant. That’s art in process.”
The pieces that Davis showed me from her time in Santa Fe, were in marked contrast to the pieces she is currently creating. Her older art represented a different stage not only in her life but also in her art and her development as an artist. Having heard her talk about her original visions for the installation, I was surprised by what had come to life on the canvases before me. The pieces that are on exhibit use elements of collage to paint some truly transformative and creative images, a series of 3-4 canvases that represent a gateway from the past into the fluidity of the present creative process of this fine artist. I asked Heather to tell me about how she would describe the differences for her, as an artist, moving from the light and expansiveness of the Southwest to the changing patterns of light and color in the Northwest. “Here, I’m aware of the different colors and light, and the changing pallet. I’m moving from a very emotional color connection to a very different array of hues.”
As she describes the first piece in a series of three, she points out that “it still has some reflections of the bright vibrancy of the Southwest…the newer pieces relate to the melancholy, the more muted tones of the sea.” Davis described feeling caught up in the sense of sadness and waiting for those who wait for the loved ones at sea. “the wives walking the widow’s walks, standing staring out to sea waiting for something, someone.”
Davis also talked about how the difference in life styles affects her art. When she moved back to Astoria, she did so to marry a childhood friend, so much of her life now is in relation to her new marriage and her adjustment to life back in the Northwest. “The bones of work, the vibrancy that is enlivening my art now, is affected by my connection with the earth, on the earth. I’m out hiking and walking, breathing in the new scents of the earth, the sea, the ancient smells of the river. There’s much hidden here, and I think that mystery comes into my own experience, and then it emerges out through the art. I have to accept that I can’t see what’s beneath the surface of the earth….it’s covered up with the silts, grasses, undergrowth, roots of ancient trees. It’s hidden in a way that requires that I have to dive in a little deeper.”
Davis was working on a large piece, and was involved in a layering, drying process that gave here large gaps of time between steps of creation. As she moved her hand gently over the drying canvas, she said, “This piece is going to be a reflection of that searching process.” Davis mentioned that she had shared her latest work with her Mother, also an accomplished artist, who commented, “I think you are opening up a whole new level of your art, a whole new dimension…something new and unexplored, that is ready to reveal a new aspect of you as an artist.” I believe her Mother is right.
See for yourself. Heather Clement Davis’ new exhibit, will be on display from Sunday, April 1, 2012 throughout the entire month. Meet Heather Clement Davis on the Second Saturday’s Artist’s Reception, and enjoy learning more about the artist and her work.