Monument to Mill Creek Valley
Five years of planning, preparation, and work culminated with the unveiling of the first installment of Pillars of the Valley on February 16, 2023. We were able to honor the elders of Mill Creek Valley and it was one of the most fulfilling moments I have ever experienced. Pillars of the Valley stands as a remembrance of the great people of Mill Creek Valley whose legacy cannot be forgotten, built over, or moved aside. Their collective memories, stories, and contributions to the narrative of St. Louis live on.
ct was made possible by former residents who helped me shape the work, the STL CITY team who believed in my vision and provided the site, and Great Rivers Greenway & Lamar Johnson Collaborative who supported in helping this project come to life. The monument is also a part of the Brickline Greenway, a plan to create a network of up to 20 miles of greenways, linking up to 17 neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis, connecting Forest Park to the Gateway Arch National Park, Fairground Park to Tower Grove Park and hundreds of destinations in between.
Check out this brief video of me discussing the historic monument, Pillars of the Valley.
The project has received lots of press coverage. Check out some of the articles below:
St. Louis Public Radio
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Magazine
The St. Louis American
Damon Davis: Apologue for the Darkest Gods
In late 2020, I was featured as one of the creatives in a new documentary short film series In The Making from American Masters and Firelight Media, following eight emerging cultural icons on their journeys to becoming masters of their artistic disciplines. Watch the short here.
The Ferguson Rebellion archived in Whose Steets? follows in the footsteps a history of black resistances and rebellions which have arose in the month of August, earning the name, Black August. Amongst those--from the Haitian Revolution, the Nat Turner Rebellion, to the March on Washington--the Watts Uprising remains the closest in proximal history to the Crenshaw Dairy Mart of Inglewood.
In conjunction with an online premiere of Whose Streets in August 2020, I curated works of contemporary Black revolutionary artists, Lola Ogbara, Jen Everett, and Adrian Octavius Walker in an online exhibition for Crenshaw Dairy Mart. The exhibition was accompanied by a series of Instagram takeovers by each artist, as well as IG Live interviews viewable on CDM’s IG.
View exhibtion here: www.crenshawdairymart.com/black-august-2020
Crenshaw Dairy Mart streamed Whose Streets? on PBS’s independent documentary program POV from August 7 - 9, 2020.
in the name of strength and protection, in an uncertain and chaotic world, we call to the power of our ancestors and descendants deep within us to combat the forces of tyranny and evil
Let's be real, 2020 was stressful. Altars is a project in response to the intense energies I've felt last year. I wanted to share this augmented reality experience with you all as places to appreciate small joys, to pause for moments of rest or reflection, or to lay burdens down. I hope you use them in whatever ways feel right for you.
Altars consists of three augmented reality (AR) altars, each embodying a specific emotional state–joy, grief, and protection. They are meant to serve as a “virtual conduit” for those feelings, each accompanied by a soundscape and short meditation. I was inspired by altars from cultures all over the world, especially Black and Brown cultures, who have used them to channel energies toward enlightenment, salvation, and loss. Experience Altars for yourself here.
Altars is a WebAR experience produced by RYOT in partnership with All Black Creatives and Huffpost. Read more about the project here.
In the film, I take the point of view as a bystander. The theme of the bystander is one that is central to this story. Reggie says that he was a bystander in the murder of the young women on that night in April. A guilty party none the less in admittance to rape, but a bystander as patriarchial behavior took two bright young lives. Through this lens, I explore how myself and other men, specifically Black men, can find ourselves being bystanders to harmful behavior towards women.
The motif of "clay" is specific to the nature of how the idea of "truth" shows up in this story. Clay like truth is malleable and is so in the way both Reggie and the justice system use it in this case. Multiple things can be true at once and can change depending on whose perspective is dominant.
This film is a collaboration with Emmy-nominated animation studio, Lumen Anime.
A Stranger falls from the sky one day, in search of a castle and a Queen that was shown to him in his dream. In his search, he is taken on a fantastic voyage where he meets magical characters along the way. Will he find his castle and queen, and will they be the same as they were in his dream?
Learn more about The Stranger here.
Directed by Damon Davis
Ceorography, Costumes, Props by Audrey Simes
Cinematography by Chris Renteria
Edited by Damon Davis
Directed by Damon Davis
Animated by Ryan Frank
Read more on MOCAD’s website here.
Photos courtesy of MOCAD
The exhibition opened to the public Friday, June 18, 2021 at Oakland’s leading cultural arts venue, Betti Ono Gallery and runs through August 13th. The exhibition is the culmination of my virtual residency with Betti Ono and is curated by Anyka Barber, Founder/ Director/ Curator of Betti Ono.
The Story Behind Darker Gods at The Lake of Dreams
In this episode of the trilogy, we follow the journey of John Icarus (also known as Black Icarus) the only mortal to ever see The Garden of Low Hanging Heavens where the Darker Gods walk on this plane of reality. Icarus escapes lynching where he was being tarred and feather by flapping and flalling his arms, while having his neck in the nose. Through his sheer will to survive, those feathers bound to his arms and became wings, allowing Icarus to escape the hangman’s noose and find salvation atop a holy mountain, where The Garden of Low Hanging Heavens resides.
While exploring the garden, Icarus stumbles upon a child god, Blake the Great, trapped by chains at the shore of his Lake of Dreams. Blake tells Icarus that a pale horse had come into the sacred garden uninvited and had tricked the child god by offering him the enchanted chains that now held Blake in place, for a chance to drink from The Lake of Dreams. The horse drank from the lake and consumed it down to its last drop, then, leaving the child god in chains, moved on, going throughout the garden, encountering other Gods, tricking and hurting them and their followers, and consuming everything in its path. Blake the Great offers Icarus a wager, if he could find the horse and keep it, retrieve the key to the chains and free the boy god, then Blake would let Icarus go out into the lake and fish out his wildest dream.
Learn more at DarkerGods.com
View exhibition images of the first chapter of the epic, Darker Gods in The Garden of Low Hanging Heavens here.
The cultures of the past, such as Greek, Yoruba, and other polytheistic societies, had multiple gods that reflected the personality and nuance of the world around them. I am obsessed with myth and legend because I think they are the way people explained the world around them before science was the end all be all of understanding the universe. In this work, I hope to create a mythology that is reflective of my interaction with the world as a Black person in America, and that reflects the different aspects of black identity that people have in our community. I also set out to speak about our experience removed from the spectacle of pain that is often associated with Blackness. This work hopefully inspires and empowers thoses that view it to see themselves in these deities, giving them a different way to see the way we are portrayed in the media and popular culture. This is an ongoing story just as myths and legends continue to change with the world and time they exist in. The Darker Gods in The Garden of Low Hanging Heavens is the introduction to a universe where people of color are divine.
- Damon Davis
Learn more at DarkerGods.com
Photos by Brea McAnally
Stay tuned for a podcast version of Ligeia Mare coming next year.
For more information on our releases, events, and other news go here.
Libation is currently installed on the facade of the Betti Ono Gallery in Oakland, CA. The mural is paired with my first-ever augmented reality experience, The Libation Tapestry, designed in collaboration with Betti Ono impact producer and creative director Calvin Williams. In the experience, priests–clothed in deep blue and orange patterned Ankara fabric–pour libation upon the soil, seeds, and stone in the center of a memorial floral garden. Like a rose from concrete, a young girl stands stoically facing us, flanked by two of her sister-friends at each side granting her protection. As the libation is poured, portals for the past, present, and future rush open in the backdrop of the floral gardens. The libation gives life and joy to the young girl as she looks about, smiling as her dress illuminates with the same patterned hues of the priest’s ankara.
"The use of state-sanctioned violence against people of color has historically functioned as a warning that death is a suitable consequence for assumed criminality, suspected or otherwise. With the advent of social media and citizen journalism, visuals of these deaths are immediately available and widely shared. While this documentation often serves to protect the individual at risk during both the incident and the ensuing legal process, its repetition maintains a traumatizing effect, especially on communities of color.
The intrusion of this reality on the psyche of oppressed people is central to Selections from Negrophilia, which features meditative, collaged mixed media works by Damon Davis. On exhibition for the first time, the works challenge a grotesque fascination with black death in American culture. Davis’ instinctual works serve as a therapeutic response to these seemingly endless and intentional acts of violence."