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Willis Bing Davis

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Information about Willis Bing Davis

Profile image of Willis Bing Davis

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Mixed Media Artist
Art Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Rust Orange
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Accra, Ghana
Favorite Quote:
Reach High And Reach Back. Always Walk With Dust On Your Shoes.

Birthplace

Born:
6/30/1937
Birth Location:
Greer, South Carolina

Profession

Category:
ArtMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Mixed Media Artist
Art Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Rust Orange
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Accra, Ghana
Favorite Quote:
Reach High And Reach Back. Always Walk With Dust On Your Shoes.

Birthplace

Born:
6/30/1937
Birth Location:
Greer
See how Willis Bing Davis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Cultural leader Willis “Bing” Davis was born on June 30, 1937, in Greer, South Carolina to Verona Hargro Davis Buffington and Levonia “Lee” Davis, a coal truck driver and gospel singer. Growing up on Dayton, Ohio’s, East Side, Davis attended Washington Elementary School. An All-City basketball player at six feet four inches tall, Davis graduated from Wilbur Wright High School in 1955. Assisted by coach Dean Dooley, Davis entered DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, where his classmate was Vernon Jordan. Graduating in 1959, Davis taught art at Dayton’s Colonel White High School. He attended the Dayton Art Institute and earned his Master of Education degree from Oxford, Ohio’s, Miami University in 1967. Later, from 1975 to 1976, he pursued graduate studies at Indiana University.

Returning to DePauw University in 1970, Davis served as assistant dean of art and coordinator of Black Studies – as the only black faculty member. In 1973, Davis attended his first meeting of the National Conference of Artists (NCA) and made his first trip to Africa (Ghana). Davis was appointed assistant dean of the graduate school and associate professor of art at Miami University in 1976. That same year, Davis held his first one man show at the Studio Museum of Harlem. In 1978, Davis was invited to chair the Art Department and to become director of the new Paul Robeson Cultural and Performing Arts Center by Dr. Arthur E. Thomas of Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. Davis, who served on Central State University’s faculty for twenty years, also was a visiting scholar at the University of Dayton and an artist in residence at Wright State University.

Davis has an illustrious record as an artist and curator including exhibitions at the American Craft Museum, the Renwick Gallery, Maryland Institute College of Art and Design, Savannah College of Art and Design, Anacotia Museum, National Museum of Art of Senegal, West Africa, United States Embassy Accra, Ghana, and Museum fur Angewandte Kunst in Frankfort, Germany. Davis was visiting artist-lecturer for Panafest 94 in Accra, Ghana. In 1997, Davis received the Ohio Art Educator of the Year Award. He received the 1999 Global Youth Peace and Tolerance Award and the 2001 Ohioan Pegasus Award. Davis is president of the board of directors of the National Conference of Artists. Davis also established EbonNia Gallery in the developing Wright/Dunbar neighborhood of Dayton’s West Side.

A hometown cultural hero, Davis has a grown daughter and lives in Dayton with his wife, Audrey.

See how Willis Bing Davis is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willis Bing Davis' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis shares how his parents met and their personalities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis remembers the African American community in East Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willis Bing Davis shares his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis remembers the works of art made by members of his family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis describes his mother's practice of shape note singing
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis talks about playing basketball in his community
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis recalls the encouragement he received from his basketball coach, Dean Dooley, at Wilbur Wright High School
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis talks about developing his skills as an athlete and an artist
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willis Bing Davis describes the athletic competition in East Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willis Bing Davis recalls visiting and enrolling at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis describes his experience at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis recalls working with HistoryMaker Vernon Jordan at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis remembers his mentors at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis recalls the artists in his neighborhood and his introduction to African American art
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis talks about his athletic achievements at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis describes his experience playing basketball in the Amateur Athletic Union
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willis Bing Davis describes his approach to playing basketball in the Amateur Athletic Union
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willis Bing Davis talks about recording with his doo-wop group and becoming a teacher after college, pt. 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis talks about recording with his doo-wop group and becoming a teacher after college, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis recalls becoming director of the art program for the Living Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio in 1967
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis lists some of the artists he brought to the Living Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis shares his philosophy on teaching art
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis recalls the demise of the Living Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio and accepting a position at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis describes his experience on the faculty of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Willis Bing Davis describes his first experience with the National Conference of Artists in 1973
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Willis Bing Davis remembers organizing his first trip to Africa in 1973
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willis Bing Davis remembers his visit to Goree Island in Dakar, Senegal in 1973
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis remembers his visit to Accra, Ghana in 1973
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis describes temporarily accepting a position at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1976
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis describes becoming an assistant dean and associate professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1976
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis recalls receiving his M.Ed. degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1967
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis describes becoming chair of the art department at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio in 1978
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis shares his highlights of working at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Willis Bing Davis talks about the importance of continuing to practice and produce art
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Willis Bing Davis shares his philosophy of art
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willis Bing Davis describes the influence of music and improvisation on his art
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis reflects on the concept of a Black Aesthetic
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis talks about William Komla Amoaku and the cultural life at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis describes working with Arthur E. Thomas at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis describes his impression of Arthur E. Thomas' character before he worked at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis describes the establishment of his EbonNia Gallery in Dayton, Ohio, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis describes the establishment of his EbonNia Gallery in Dayton, Ohio, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Willis Bing Davis describes his plans for the future of the EbonNia Gallery in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Willis Bing Davis talks about his leadership in the National Conference of Artists
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Willis Bing Davis talks about his experience with the National Endowment for the Arts
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Willis Bing Davis talks about his personal style
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Willis Bing Davis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community. Pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Willis Bing Davis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community. Pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Willis Bing Davis reflects upon his regrets
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Willis Bing Davis reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Willis Bing Davis talks about his family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Willis Bing Davis talks about the Wright-Dunbar neighborhood in Dayton, Ohio
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Willis Bing Davis describes how he would like to be remembered