Jade Davis

Anatomy of a Nervous Generation (2020)

Paper, embroidery thread
28″ x 44″

Collaged paper combined with images and texts from a medical textbook forms an abstract map of anxieties about the United States healthcare system and its failures, including the handling of the current public health crisis.

Standoff (2020)

Paper, wire, glue
Dimensions Vary

Papier-mâché hyenas, which symbolize matriarchy and consent, confront the lion statues in front of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon national headquarters at Northwestern University. The hyenas are composed of news articles regarding the 2017 allegations of sexual assault against SAE.

Crouched Body (2020)

Oil on panel
27″ x 36″
Horror elements are combined with abject bodily appearance in a cornered, crouching figure. The viewer, based on their perception and relationship to the body, determines which aspects of the body are to be noticed first, and which are more repulsive.

Eleven Muses (2019)

Screen print on paper, embroidery thread
14″ x 56″

A line of nude women from classic artworks are stitched together, with the aspects of their environment which cover their bodies highlighted. My own body is included in solidarity while distancing myself from the position of the “twelfth muse.”

Artist Statement

My work combines images of the human or animal body with influences from feminist ideology and horror imagery. Using primarily paper, fiber, paint, and clay, I create two- and three-dimensional works exploring the relationship between the body as subject and the authority allowed, or denied, by the subject, artist, and viewer. This utilization allows me to explore themes such as the manifestations of trauma, control, anxiety, and other physical and psychological experiences. I am interested in instances when these phenomena are both personally and socially inflicted, internal and external expectations of the self and the body.

The body as subject is the most salient aspect of my work, either through images of full bodies or more abstract organic shapes that reference the body and its parts. These images are contorted to become either bodies to identify with, or objects of neutral viewing, depending on the viewer and their experiences. I incorporate animal imagery into my work to suggest the hybridity between human and animal behavior, breaking down human states into symbolic representations rather than recreating the appearance of a body and, therefore, a literal connection between the viewer and subject.

My use of traditionally feminine imagery and subject matter is often combined with my interests in the delicate and gestural nature of material such as paper and fiber, and specifically, their association with crafting. This choice refers to ideas popularized by the second-wave feminist movement and “craftivism” beginning in the early 1960s, in which feminist activism and craft were unified and the domesticity of crafting was subverted. By thinking through this history in my work, I investigate forms of control placed on the woman’s body, both from the woman herself and from others.

I also utilize techniques and images from the horror genre of media, which is often intertwined with depictions of the body as well as of distressing physical or psychological states. Horror imagery allows me to explore the states of fear, anxiety, and disgust in the viewer by incorporating unsettling images such as distorted faces and bodies, incomplete or missing features, and color suggesting decay or violence. This use of imagery also allows me to portray bodies in a discomforting manner while drawing attention to the experiences of such bodies in reaction to disgusted, objectifying viewing.

Throughout my work, I look to question the perception of certain types of bodies as horrific or disgusting. My utilization of images of bodies — specifically feminine or deformed or otherwise non-normative bodies — and focus on how their appearances and uses have been controlled throughout history allows me to challenge this authority. My work also explores how psychological states and experiences can impact the physical body, and vice versa, and allows the viewer to project their own experiences and feelings onto the subject, human or inhuman, and regardless of perceived gender.