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Saturday, February 1, 2020 through
Saturday, February 29, 2020


Swirbul Library Art Gallery

From Philly by Way of Richmond, With Love. (Selections from Damien Davis: Color Cargo)

Damien Davis Bodily Senses (Blackamoors Collage #235) 2019 CNC routed Baltic birch, plexiglass and stainless steel hardware, 30 x 30in.   Photo Credit: John Carlano

Damien Davis (b. 1984) is a New York based artist who explores historical representations of blackness by seeking to unpack the visual language of various cultures and to question how these societies code and decode representations of race. Using digital tools to shape layers of materials both natural and synthetic, Davis composes stories, told through a lexicon of graphic figures and shapes, that oscillate between the personal memories of the artist and chapters of human history. In Color Cargo, Damien Davis examines the role of wood in movement and containment and the subjective power of color. In doing so, he creates a deceptively appealing space for confronting bias and dehumanization in contemporary society.

Davis uses digital tools to code and map plywood and Plexiglass into shapes that are cut by a laser and a CNC router, then constructed and assembled by hand. His use of data-driven processes is a deliberate act of defiance against the stereotypical aesthetic tropes often prescribed onto black, queer, male artists, whose work is labeled as instinctive, lacking in formal technical training, or even primitive.

In the Color Cargo series, a lexicon of silhouetted images float over terrazzo patterns and geometric fields of color that correspond to the Lüscher Color Test, a diagnostic tool used in twentieth-century psychology. These forms serve as visual cues that reference the construct of race, contemporary social issues, and the artist’s personal experiences. Detached from any hierarchy or background, the Color Cargo lexicon forms a stratum of layers that reveals the complexity of sorting through history and identity in the face of systemic and cultural structures shaped by superficial assessments.

The Adelphi University presentation of Color Cargo features works selected from the original exhibition by Damien Davis. Damien Davis: Color Cargo was organized by the Center for Art in Wood and curated by Jennifer-Navva Milliken. This Exhibition is hosted in collaboration with the Center for African, Black and Caribbean Studies at Adelphi University.

The exhibition program at the Center for Art in Wood is generously supported by members of the Center’s Cambium Giving Society, the Bresler Family Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Philadelphia Cultural Fund, William Penn Foundation, and Windgate Foundation. Corporate support is provided by Boomerang, Inc., Penn State Industries, Signarama Center City, and Sun-lite Corporation.

Photo Gallery


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Coronavirus Update: As New York is on a "pause" for social distancing purposes, all in-person events for the next several weeks have been converted to online, postponed or canceled. Please check this page as information will be updated as possible—and call ahead before any upcoming in-person events until further notice. Thanks. 

For further information, please contact:

Jon Duff
Exhibitions and Art Collection Curator
Levermore Hall, Room 407
p – 516.877.3126
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