An Afternoon With Painter Jeremy Okai Davis

Jeremy Okai Davis

On Saturday, February 18th, 2023 The Friends of Seaside Library will host Portland based painter Jeremy Okai Davis. The event will take place at 2:00 p.m. in the Community Room and there will be a time after the talk for a Q&A. 2022 saw the Library acquire two works from the artist that were added to the permanent collection. One is a painting of actress and activist Denise Nicholas and the other is a lithograph of the artist’s father, Herb. Mr. Davis’s talk will center on the body of work that lead to the Denise Nicholas painting as well as his current show which started out as an offshoot from the Herb lithograph.  

The Denise Nicholas piece comes from Davis’s “Black Wood” exhibit from the Elizabeth Leech Gallery. The series continued his exploration of racial bias through the history of "Shirley cards," a system used to calibrate skin tones during film processing. The series highlighted Black women musicians, models and actresses that were not widely recognized for their talents during the time they were working in the entertainment industry. His subjects symbolize the perseverance of Black culture and the kind of indefinable grace that can be maintained through struggle.

In Davis’s current exhibit titled, “A Good Sport”, he focuses on Black Americans in the fields of sports and academia who navigated complex ideologies of “sportsmanship” throughout their professional careers. In this new body of work Davis’s thoughtful and generous considerations of representation, technique, form and color simultaneously highlight his muses and allow them to embody their own stories.

Jeremy Okai Davis received a BFA in painting from the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, NC. Davis relocated to Portland, OR in 2007 where he has continued his studio practice in addition to working as a graphic designer and illustrator. His work has been shown nationally at the Studio Museum of Harlem (New York, NY), THIS Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA), Wa Na Wari (Seattle, WA) and The Rotating Art Program at Portland International Airport (Portland, OR). Davis's work resides in the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon's permanent collection.