(Swedish, b. 1957)
Born in Cupertino, California to Swedish immigrants, Silvia L. Davis moved to Salt Lake City at the age of 9. She received a B.F.A. in sculpture from the University of Utah in 1980. The same year she found an old remote warehouse in west Salt Lake which she converted to a sculpture studio and adapted to fit the needs of wood sculpture. Here she began an intense development of a highly personal expression in wood.
To support the work of these early ideas she worked as a theatrical technician, painting elaborate sets of backdrops and carving theatrical sculpture. She also worked as a technician for a natural history museum. Here she prepared, cast and did sculptural work on fossils for skeletal systems. By these means she supported her work for years until it began to receive support.
She has been the recipient of much recognition for her work as a sculptor including the North American Sculpture Award in 1983.
Davis has executed numerous public and private commissions including a commission for the U.S. Film Festival in 1987.
She has shown extensively in group, one and two person exhibits in Utah, Colorado, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
For full resume, view PDF below
1993 M.F.A. Sculpture University of Utah
1980 B.F.A. Sculpture University of Utah
1978 Snowbird Summer Arts Institute
2014 Artist’s of Helper - Four Person Show, Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
2013 Annual Spring Salon, Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah
2012 Silvia Davis and Wendy Chidester -Two person Show, Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
2008 “Paul and Silvia Davis” - Two Person Show, Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, California
2007 Annual Spring Salon, Springville Museum of Art, Springville, Utah
1983 North American Sculpture Award, Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado
2008 Sculptor for “A Light in the Piazza” Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake City, Utah
2005 Sculptor for “Peter Pan”, Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake City, Utah
2004 Sculptor for Showtime Channel, “The Maldonado Miracle”
2004 Sculptor for Disney Channel, “Don’t Look Under the Bed”
2003 Present Private Workshops sculpting the Human Head in clay
1994 Wood Sculpture of St. Elizabeth for St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Richfield, Utah
1994 Percent for Art, Life size Firefighter carved in mahogany for Fire Station, Salt Lake City, Utah
1992 Liturgical work St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, Richfield, Utah. Sculptures of the Stations of the Cross
1992 Collaborative Designer and Sculptor for Public Block 57 Project, Salt Lake City, Utah. Works in Bronze and Cast Iron
1992 Percent for Arts Project, Public Sculpture for Fairmont and Warm Springs Parks, Salt Lake City, Utah. Bronze
I think that the act of re-creating a form, by hand, in a different, transformative material enables us to experience that object again … as if for the first time. We see its true form as interpreted by the artist and not just its utilitarian identity.
I search for clear ways to reduce and reassemble the chaos and complexity of my subjects. Because this process, the back and forth of creation and destruction, is actually visible in the sculpture, we are able to observe the artist’s mind at work, and share the visual consciousness of another.
It’s easy to see that the work of Silvia Davis is complex in many ways. When looking at one of her wooden cats, for example, I find myself trying to unravel the process of its creation. Each sculpture has a kind of geological memory of its making which is visible in the final form. The almost genetic shuffling and reshuffling of the many different shapes, colors and textures of the carved blocks of wood is all there for us to see but is none the less very difficult to grasp in terms of its making.
When looking at one of her cats a thought comes to me that may be similar to what Darwin may have thought when looking at a real cat, which is: “How did this miracle come to be”? On a deeper level her work is a metaphor for those moments of awe, which we all feel from time to time in the face of nature.
Complexity also exists in the expressive qualities of her work. Her animals are independent, sentient beings. They project an inner life, intelligence and dignity. They are calm with a strong balanced center. Yet they are not without mystery. They achieve a full measure of the depth of her identification with and feelings for her subjects.
Emeritus Professor of Art
University of Utah