The Rapidian

UICA Spotlight: Israel Davis

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/Israel Davis

/Israel Davis

/Israel Davis

Since Israel Davis joined UICA as the Director of Ceramics in 2004, he has been working to evolve the clay studio while meeting the needs of all types of ceramic artists, including: the academic who’s work is about the process of art making and teaching; the commercialist who’s goal is to sell their work as a livelihood; and the hobbyist who uses the creative outlet for relaxation. Israel also teaches at Kendall College of Art and Design and Ox-Bow Summer School of Art in Saugatuck, MI. His dedication to his students and studio members is evident both in and out of the classroom. "Israel brings a total commitment to the courses and programs he teaches and builds. His preparation is excellent as is his involvement with his students. In short he is truly a fine teacher," said EW Ross, Ox-Bow Program Director. Israel arranges an annual trip for clay studio members to Ox-Bow where they are able to experience firing a 48 cubic foot gas car kiln, wood-firing, and working with visiting artists. Earlier this year, Israel brought his students to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference in Philadelphia, which featured panels, lectures, live demonstrations and over 80 ceramic art exhibitions.

When he is not teaching, Israel is creating his own work, which usually involves the process of screen-printing on clay. “I approach art making as research into thought, memory, and play. It is a study of metaphor through fantasy and authenticity. The ceramic medium is a vehicle for this investigation,” said Israel Davis. Israel’s work is divided into three separate bodies of work, all of which are inspired by childhood memories. First is the “Pages” series derived from drawings based on family photos juxtaposed with text and symbols as written reactions to the photos. Then there is his closely related sculptural/installation series, featuring animal characters based on cartoons and storybook illustrations from his past. Finally there is the “Ambush” series, where functional works are produced using screen-printed imagery derived from photographed arrangements of toys at war. Israel’s work has been featured in a number of exhibitions, most recently including the Michigan: Land of Riches show at the former Grand Rapids Public Museum and the Redial show at Byrneboehm Gallery in Grand Rapids. His work is also on exhibition at the Wordage show at the Detroit Artist’s Market, which was inspired by Israel’s work itself; the Markings show at Artspace in his home town of Raleigh, NC; and the Yunomi Invitational at AKAR in Iowa City, IA, which is a nationally renowned ceramics gallery. Israel has also recently entered a deal with Speedball, a ceramics equipment and supply manufacturer, to create a line of tools and materials for screen-printing on clay. Israel will be a national Speedball representative for this new line. Israel’s professional achievements and passion for teaching have made significant contributions to UICA's clay studio and the greater ceramics community. He strives to make UICA's clay studio nationally known as a place “where serious ceramics are done, where students can develop their portfolios and transition into residencies.”

To learn more about UICA classes and studio memberships, please visit or contact Israel directly at [email protected]. To learn more about Israel’s work, visit

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