CJ Davis is a Mexican American painter living in Northern Virginia. She is currently a BFA student concentrating in interArts at George Mason University's School of Art. In 2021, she was chosen to do a TEDx talk with George Mason University, on how there is a lack of diversity in the art world, and how to resolve it. ‘Art Looks Better in Color’ is her breakout TEDx talk. In 2022, Davis was chosen to do a second TEDx talk, “Hurting Hearts to Hear and Heal”, and it is a personal narrative about the struggles with mental illness in the BIPOC community, and how she healed through art. She has been commissioned to do art workshops, such as putting together a workshop about intersectionality in art for Hispanic Heritage month at the Torpedo Art Factory’s Late Night event about Heritage. She also does speaking and teaching visits at local libraries in Northern Virginia about art and healing. One of her major debut exhibitions was from the show she curated with UndocuMason, “Establishing Roots and Resisting Illegality”. This show illuminated the importance of advocacy within art.
Color makes the medicine go down. I do not use the color black in my paintings, instead using every other color. I try to explore the intersection of color and emotion, and trick the eye. My subject matter can be very dark, as I mainly illustrate living with mental illness, chronic pain, and traumatic events such as domestic violence and sexual assault. Using immense color allows the viewer to walk away with a resolve. The contrast between humor and dark subject matter is another major theme that juxtaposes throughout the works as well. Without humor, coping is much harder.
I also focus on the intersectionality of identity, and how disability, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and race affect me in everyday life. I take the subject matter, and try to stage compositions that force the viewer to take a different perspective about a person or object. Being a Mexican American woman, I have never fit in easily. Being disabled with mental and physical illnesses, made it even harder. I always struggled with internalizing these things, until I met my high school art teacher. I learned about expressionism, and was inspired by the ability to display emotion, and empower myself through visual means. I did not want to stop at just empowering myself, but empowering others. I believe the intersectionality of all identities is a powerful resource to inspire people to think in new perspectives, and truly empathize with them. I work in acrylic paint and ink are the main mediums I use to portray these themes.
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