Willis ‘Bing’ Davis
Ancestral Spirit Dance #259, 1999
Oil pastel on rag board
Location: Kettering Government Center South
One of Dayton’s most celebrated artists, Willis ‘Bing’ Davis knew that he wanted to be an artist as an elementary school student. Influenced by his community, Davis has striven to celebrate humanity and creativity through his own artwork, teaching others, and activism through art and culture. A true advocate for arts education and its impact on youth, Davis has been instrumental in regional initiatives to bring art to people of all walks of life. “In my works, I’m concerned with taking a given medium and making a personal statement based on my perception, observations and response to my environment,” Davis wrote. Beginning in the 1970s, Davis reflected his experiences traveling to West Africa through the Ancestral Spirit Dance artwork series. “I attempt to blend my love for traditional African textiles, as reflected by the geometric patterns in the background, with my urban life experience which is symbolized by the improvisation or abstract gestural movement of a jazz soloist,” wrote Davis. “When I view the completed art work, I see it as a visual prayer of thanks for those on whose shoulders I stand…and dance for joy.”
Davis received his B.A. from DePauw University and M.Ed. from Miami University, and also attended the School of the Dayton Art Institute. He has exhibited internationally, including at the Studio Museum in Harlem, American Craft Museum, Renwick Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art, Savannah College of Art and Design, National Museum of Art of Senegal West Africa, U.S. Embassy Accra, Ghana, and Museum fur Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany.