We had the good fortune of connecting with daviea davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi daviea, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I began my career as a public artist while in the thick of having three children in under four years. It was all consuming. I saw someone selling tiny tiles, shoe boxes and boxes of them and bought some and began to teach myself how to make mosaics. At first, it was very rarely, but as my children grew and were able to play with each other, I could steal moments of gluing down tiles onto our dining room table. I also found joy in musing about the design and would daydream about what would happen next time I got some time to glue the tiles down. It began a whole world of possibility for me. As the years went by, my children played close by while I worked outside on mosaic after mosaic. I had to walk away from my work a million times to play with my children, or teach them, or mediate their quarrels, or take them to doctors and to the emergency room when they broke their bones. It was fluid, being a mother and an artist. As time passed my children started school and became more independent, so I was able to work on my art while they were at school. Before I knew it, they were grown and gone and I could follow my passion for mosaic with no interruptions. I was able to create a large body of work and to take chances and push the medium in new directions as I moved from tile to stained glass. In 2012, I sold no art and did not get any paying art jobs. So, I winged it. I would find ways to create my art for public places by offering to do it for free. I had motto, “free is free”, meaning, if I was doing it for free, I was free to create anything I wanted. I tried new ideas. I had nothing to lose and my art was soon hanging all over town. My life now is creating my art full time. As in, sometimes I work fifteen hour days and sometimes I just walk around in circles getting nothing done, but looking around at color and light and letting it take my breath away.. Then, I work some more.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
At the beginning,school groups and nonprofits would ask me to donate a piece of art for their fund raising auctions. This I did. It was a good way to share my art and to hone my skills and to take chances and create new mosaics. It did not earn me an income. So I started thinking about how to help schools or non profits raise large amounts of money and also earn an income myself. I learned that I have the ability to listen to a story about a time or place, and to tell the story back with my glass art creations. The way I proposed this idea was that I would create a wall size mosaic telling the story of the good work that the school or nonprofit did. Then they would virtually auction off sections of the mosaic to sponsors. One school raised fifty thousand dollars with one of my mosaics, and one nonprofit raised one hundred thousand dollars. Each place I worked with still has their big mosaic and their community feels they had a part in making it happen.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Pittsburgh is a great place to show a someone around, we would go to the museums and the Aviary, we would go to Phipps Conservatory and the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden. A trip to the Strip District would be a fun day to buy cheese and olives at Pennsylvania Macaroni and grape leaves at Stamoolis Brothers. We would get coffee at La Prima . One of the days.there would be a trip to Randy Land, The Mattress Factory and the Heinz History Center . We would eat delicious food; Indian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Turkish. We would pop into The Pittsburgh Glass Center and see what is happening at this wonderful glass school, in the studios, in the gallery. We would have dinner parties with the most present and engaging people of Pittsburgh
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have a group of friend, I call the “Belief Committee” and they have believed in me and commissioned my art and spread the word about what I do. My main support has been a woman I call, “My Benefactress” . Every time I would almost give up, she would commission a piece of my art and that would get me moving again. She has about twenty pieces of my art. She loves what I do and has promoted my work and believed in me for twenty three years. I have a new piece of art for her on my work table right now