Keion Davis is a young, gifted, and Black creator in Jacksonville pushing boundaries with the force of love and kindness. Using the tension and dynamism of politics and social movements, Keion explores vivid imagery and direct language as their most immediate form of action. Yellow House and Keion have collaborated on a series of works that meditate on our current condition, amplify marginalized voices, and also encourage direct participation in the social efforts of our time. Now, we’re extending our collaboration to the written word, in hopes of forging a more intimate connection with the artist and their work.
The work you’ve done generally and with Yellow House is very confrontational (rightly so), how does it feel to be making such bold work in a time that’s so emotionally charged and polarized? Has living in a battleground state influenced your work at all?
I think my work has always had a hint of confrontation in it, as someone who is queer and Black, I think fighting for my right to exist has imbued me with an intrinsic confrontational attitude that leaks into my work. It feels great to be making work with such emotion behind it, I don’t think I have a choice as a creative but to make work that is saying something, no punches pulled. I don’t think I ever had a choice. My people have been trampled on for centuries, I carry their struggle on my shoulders every day. I of course try to find time in between for joy and love.
With the upcoming election being essentially one of the most important in history, there’s so much anxiety in the air. We’re currently living in this collective energy of mostly anger and fear— how are you channeling all of the emotions being brought on by this election?
I’ve been channeling it into anxiety and dread, haha. No really, I largely focus it on Get Out The Vote efforts and creating things. That always helps. Getting a full-time job has taken up a lot of brain energy. I don’t want to say I’m distracted, we live in a world where distraction and apathy are privileges. I just do things that keep me happy in the Hell land that is the United States. Listen to music, journal, buy clothes, game. I want to get back into photography as well. Maybe start making music.
Outside of the more obvious inspirations for your recent work (e.g. current politics), what else is moving you to create right now?
Promoting kindness and love is a huge motivator behind my work. I think it’s the largest motivator.
Wanting to improve as a creative is always big on my mind. I like to channel my emotions and feelings into something tangible, and design happens to be that. That I can share it with the world is an added bonus, hopefully making other people happy along the way. I think there is a natural creative energy in me that moves me to make things. My strong dislike for injustice and hate is a huge compass for me.
Finally, I know we’re all holding on until the election is finalized to make any major moves, but I’d like to know how you think we might move on past November third as a community— what changes are you hoping to see within the coming weeks?
I’ve been reading a lot about the futility of voting, the idea that we live in an inherently flawed system that voting does little to influence. With that in mind, I still think there should be a shift in the air if Trump leaves office. I think Trump flamed the nature of an already amoral country, lifting up voices that were there before. As for what change I hope to see, I’m not 100% sure. America needs a facelift. The movement doesn’t end with voting. There are things that I don’t want to see change, like reproductive rights.
Despite America being a white supremacist capitalist nation, I do think a collective breath will take place once the icon of all this hate doesn’t have a pedestal to stand on. The president, whether they “matter” or not, acts as a sort of guiding beacon for the citizens of America. A beacon that cannot denounce white supremacy is probably not a good beacon. I do not think the coming weeks will be peaceful ones.
We are grateful to for Keion Davis’ engagement with Yellow House during this remarkable time. It is a strong example of how we continue to fulfill our mission of supporting artists, amplifying under-heard voices, and promoting civic engagement despite the continued closure of our physical space.
– Jordy Bowen, Yellow House Fellow
To access the Sit In, Stand Up exhibition to view other contributors and print off free downloads of all poster designs visit here. You might also see Keion’s work and designs by other artists wheat pasted in the streets of Jacksonville.