Davon Brantley an artist based in Cleveland Ohio, shapes his body of work reflecting on personal narratives and experiences. Using an amalgam of materials, he heightens meaning erratically in textured portraits that convey heightened emotional states. Childhood trauma and experiences through life, are a motif through his body of work. Thus allowing him to tackle multiple issues through development into adult life/maturity.
Drawing inspiration from the effect of interpersonal relationships on healing trauma and what worsens it, Davon has gone on to do volunteer work with organizations such as the Heights Arts and Church of
the Covenant both in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Through volunteering Davon has worked with children in the Church of the Covenant to bridge the gap between learned behaviors and unconscious decisions based on past experiences. He has participated in an Internship with Heights Arts and their “Make Your Mark” project that brought the community together through creating art work and discussing topics with people who are unfamiliar, allowing for engagement with others.
He has participated in exhibitions at the Cleveland Institute of Art with his peers and has also obtained scholarships from the Institute such as : the Gund Family Scholarship, the CIA Grant, the
CollegeNOW Scholarship, the Ohio Opportunity Grant, the Mary Suggett Ranney Art Scholarship and the Woehrrman Scholarship in Drawing. In 2015 Davon was a part of a first time event with Cain Park and their “Cain Park gets Schooled” exhibition. He worked on a community engaged project to where a mural was created with the masses of the art walk. Other exhibitions include the “Drawn to Care Show/ Exhibition”, the “Honey Dew Export” Exhibition, the “Flesh Prison” Exhibition, “Transformations” Exhibition and "The Fine Print" Exhibition.
In 2018 Davon received his B.F.A from the Cleveland Institute of Art in Drawing. Davon has gone on to being a part of exhibitions such as ; "The Dino Show, " a collaboration with Derek Hess gallery and Rainbow Babies, The High Arts Festival in Akron, OH, The "Woah Exhibition" at Bay Arts in Bay Village OH, The Summer Mash Up at Ursuline College, Show me what you Got ! at PRAMA in Parma OH, and the SeenUnSeen Exhibition at the Artists Archives and Sculpture Center that includes the collection of Kerry and Betty C. Davis.
Davon Brantley implements self-portraiture and psychology within his work. His work is inspired by the dissociative behaviors that happen as a result of traumatic experiences and the repetition involved with traumatic experiences. Davon’s interest in psychology and how traumatic experiences not only affect you in your childhood but also within adulthood comes from the fact that Davon experienced traumatic experiences growing up that have effected his development. This has caused Davon’s work to revolve around how these experiences through life can change your relationships with family, friends, loves, and meditations on sexuality, masculinity, race and etc,. Davon leads the audience through his mind that can take the form of theater , utilizes dramatic compositions and characters that act out certain emotions and themes in which he plays all of the roles of these characters. Davon’s work is all about the experience of an African American male acknowledging the trials of the living world and the effects it has on the mind.
With this use of implementing psychology within his work, referencing his own narrative we are presented three entities that contribute to the idea of switching at times of high stress. We are introduced to the states Dayven (dealing with happiness), Davon (dealing with sadness), and Donovan (love with no remorse). Each of these entities having their own way and perspective on how they deal with certain situations, but all being a part of one being. The names coming from actual mispronunciations of his name that he has been called in life.
Through oil painting, we are able to see Davon’s inspiration from the mid 18th-19th centuries from the Romantic period and Baroque painters such as Caravaggio. His work heavily employs naturalism through portraiture, with self portraiture being a main motif to depict these narratives and perform these different personality states. Drawing with charcoal, graphite, rubber cement and copper leaf, we are able to to feel the more emotional aspect of the art with aggressive mark making and tight rendering of the form. In comparison, with his use of oil painting, we are presented extreme lights and darks, intensifying what is or has happened within the scene. With saturated yellows, blues, pinks and purples we are brought into an internalized landscape that references the past; with his pallet coming directly from photographs from the past.
Though his work is completely autobiographical, Davon allows us to step foot into the narrative and think about the feelings that we may hide from or indulge ourselves too deeply in daily. The work exposes the potential dangers of using a specific state of mind to distract from certain events, the need for emotional regulation and what it is like to deal with different states of mind when it comes to highly intense situations. Thus through his compositions, Davon creates a mythos that tells of his experiences.