MSU Professor opens art exhibition at local gallery

On Friday, Sept. 16, the 410 Project Gallery opened an art exhibition, showing pieces from MSU professor Wade Davis.

According to Davis, the upcoming art show came from the last two years, and the rocky roads they’ve caused. After a global pandemic, protests in the street, and a presidential election that caused an uproar, Davis knew he had one thing to do.

“After months of doom-scrolling and staring at Zoom screens, I needed a change and a new challenge,” Davis said. “For me, the answer was to roll up my sleeves and make art.”

Davis is a business law professor, having graduated and acquired a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degree, all related to law. While he’s been involved in the legal world for many years, his introduction to the art world is a relatively recent one. He created his first print just over a year ago.

Davis took a Sabbatical last year, opening up his schedule and giving him room to engage in his newfound hobby.

“I haven’t done any art since high school,” Davis started, “It was the middle of Covid with everything going on…everything was serious and doom, I just picked up a pencil and took this little class online, and then from that I started back at it.”

Much of Davis’ artwork is inspired by childhood nostalgia; more specifically, the evolution of TV from when he was a kid to today, from a tiny nine-inch box set to a flat-screen and the MTV channel.

“It used to be that we had our little TV with the bunny ears and aluminum foil trying to get reception, and organizing our lights to get the two hours of cartoons on a Saturday. And that ultimately, moved to cable and MTV,” Davis said. “So that’s one key thing, that theme of media and what it meant to grow up in the 80s as that media evolved.”

Other themes Davis covers in his art include the idea of conforming and belonging in today’s society, while challenging that notion at the same time, celebrating 80s pop culture. He even boarded his horizons to imagine past lives for his adopted pets. 

“I’ve got a 14-pound cat who’s kind of the monster of the house, and we’ve got an old 8-pound poodle. Some of that [art]… I was like ‘Well what do my pets do at night?’ I put them in the middle of adventures… these adventures of their youth. It was projecting them out in things I think would be fun.”

Some of the key takeaways Davis hopes that viewers take from his art include a reflection on growing up, light social commentary, and a bit of levity. 

“I think that these images really resonate with people of my generation because it’s what we grew up with, but also I think people of [Generation Z] because it’s the history of looking back.” 

The art show’s opening reception was last Friday, Sept. 16, from 7 to 9 p.m., and the exhibition runs until Oct. 1, all at the 410 Project Gallery.

Header Photo: The 410 Project is located downtown Mankato. It serves as a space for artists and community members to explore contemporary art. Artist Wade Davis used Covid to explore art, and now that the chaos is coming to a calm, he is sharing his creations. (Courtesy Photo)

Write to Joey Erickson at Joey.Erickson@mnsu.edu

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