Talented Draftsman Cures World of Banality and Narrow-Mindedness

Davis McLane Connelly is an emerging Brooklyn artist and a prolific nonprofit administrator. Davis’s time is split between his artworks and creating educational programs for youth in arts, literacy, and social emotional development.

Davis’s figurative drawings combine a playful surface narrative with a visual subtext encoded with esoteric puzzles. The pieces may include iconographic stuffed toys, anthropomorphic animals, or mysterious human figures. The compositions pose variable technical challenges for the artist as a draftsman, while engaging curious viewers in a dialogue concerning the regret of lost youth, or the metaphorical process known as individuation (the individual psyche’s quest to become whole).

Davis holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology (2004) from State University of New York at Cortland, with residencies in Drawing and Painting in Corciano, Italy (2006), and the Chautauqua Institution (2007).

What are five hashtags that describe your work?

#charcoaldrawings #charcoalonpaper #haunting #realism #caravaggiowouldcry

What is your artist origin story?

I grew up in upstate New York in the Schenectady area. As a kid I loved drawing pictures and continued to do so through graduating college with a degree in Psychology. Eventually, I was invited to a couple of art residencies for my skill in rendering realist portraits and other figures. After traveling a bunch, I settled in Brooklyn in 2008 where I continued my drawing practice and also got involved in youth programming due to my unique cross-section of skills, my commitment to altruistic community practices, and my connection with youth and educators..

What is your favorite medium right now and why do you love it?

I have developed a pretty intimate fluency with condensed charcoal on cotton papers over the last several years. The durability of the paper creates a resilience to the intense erasures I need to make in order to sculpt tonal reality into the compositions. However, the tooth of the paper allows for a depth of shadow that is difficult to compete with in other similar mediums.

What is on the horizon for your work in the next year?

I am working on a series of figure drawings which will revolve around the concept of mortal, conscious mammals. I have recently returned to the practice of creating human figures in space as opposed to plush or anthropomorphized animals.

How has being in Bushwick influenced your work?

In general, New York has really pushed me to be a greater version of myself. I have seen communities in need where I can contribute skills and effort for the betterment of youth and families. I have seen extremely committed and determined individuals claw their way to success despite all the competition and distraction. I also feel like Bushwick is an especially conscious place where there is potential for impactful community collaboration, whereas other neighborhoods with a similar socioeconomic history have ignored prevalent issues.

What Bushwick artists do you admire and why?

We have a “mayor” figure on our block named Benny. He is kind and loves sunny weather. He keeps up with all goings-on in the neighborhood (Thames) and always shows the utmost stewardship of our beloved block, come what may.

Tell us your most memorable exchange during Bushwick Open Studios.

A father and his son were so captivated by my drawings one year. I wasn’t there when they visited my studio, so they came back the next day so they could ask me questions about how I make the pieces. I thought it was so nice.

If a movie is made about your life, who would play you?

I’ve been told Justin Timberlake or Ryan Gosling, but I’m probably ignoring the less flattering comparisons.

If you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Charles Darwin. I am curious to know what it was like to live in a pre-evolution theory world and hear how people responded to the ideas. I went to Galapagos recently, as well- that would be fun to discuss.

In a parallel universe, if you weren’t doing what you are doing, what would you be doing?

Musician without a doubt. Better yet, Writer and Director.

Was there something you want to share that was not asked?

I can be very long-winded when enabled, better not to ask.

You can learn more about Davis McLane Connelly here.

As part of the Arts in Bushwick activities and events, like Community Day and Bushwick Open Studios, we are showcasing the many artists participating.

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