I lead a double life.
OK, let me explain ...
Ginny Davis: Everywoman ... and Artist
I am both Everywoman and an artist. So I do lead a double life. Both are necessary and wonderful.
Who is Everywoman? She’s the woman with a kid on her hip, a vacuum cleaner in one hand, an iron in another; she’s on the phone, she’s drying her hair, she’s ironing, and she’s cooking. All at once. That was me (and probably still is me). Until, when I turned 50 about two decades ago, a friend remarked to me that I was doing too much for others and not taking care of myself. And she was right. I was the consummate Everywoman.
Within three weeks of that realization, I had enrolled in a welding class at the local college. Then three weeks later, I had bought a compressor, a plasma cutter, a chop saw, drill press, and other pieces of equipment. I threw my husband’s cars out of our three-car garage and just took over.
My husband, being a CPA, understandably was freaked out! I told him, “don’t worry.” Because I knew where I was headed from the first moment the plasma cutter was in my hand. It felt natural, like breathing. Like something I was supposed to do. The funny thing is that I had never drawn anything before that class. My instructor said to me “Go home and draw something.” I don’t remember what I came up with, but it was something very simple. And we traced it and we cut it out. It was shaky. And he gave me a few instructions. By the end of two weeks, I was an experienced cutter.
I was on my way to becoming an artist. It was freeing. It was identity. Nice to have an identity outside of “Mom.” (Although “Mom” is good, too.)
Within the first year after the welding class, I was doing at least a dozen shows. Because creating sculptures just overwhelmed me. It took me over. And that was a good thing at that time. It was really healthy.
If I hadn’t been Everywoman, doing so much for everyone else, I might not have been slingshot into the arc that shapes an artist. Both are necessary and wonderful. Essentially, I made an abrupt U-turn—from my professional life with a degree in library science and my domestic life as a wife and mother—to the life of a plasma cutter and welder. An artist. Imagine that!
As my work progressed over the years, I moved from two dimensional pieces to building and welding three dimensional sculptures. My work has appeared in Chicago Children's Hospital, Vancouver Island, and Alaska. My studio work has been featured in Sunset Magazine. And my commissioned work is in the gardens of private residences from California to New York to Canada. The majority of my work is steel and metal, and over time, my sculptures have gotten larger in size. Recent works are about seven feet tall. So … I’m not slowing down; in fact, I’ve grown more enthusiastic and excited about my work.
The boneyard nourishes my work just as a library feeds the bibliophile. It’s my inspiration, and it's where my art begins. But what actually is "the boneyard?” It’s a magical collection of objects that are found during cross-country treasure hunts at flea markets, fairs and antique shops—from Roundtop, Texas, to Brimfield, Massachusetts. It includes objects dropped off by neighbors and clients, or perilously scrambled for at the top of junk piles in offbeat places. Harvesters, mop buckets, egg beaters, roller skates, sprockets, tractor parts, auto parts, cranberry scoops, washboards, pitchforks, musical instruments, sunglasses, conveyor belts: anything and everything you can imagine.
Each object is an inspiration. And when I see the object for the first time, it has an aura. It immediately says “Here’s what I am; my history, how old I am, what my life has been like.” When a piece talks to me like that it has a future, and I have learned to really respect that gut feeling that you get about an object. Weird stuff to other people is magic to me.
From Sacramento to Napa to Nevada City
I grew up in Sacramento, California. Forty years ago I married my husband in Nevada City; we said would return and retire. And we did. We've lived in San Francisco and in Napa. We retired to Nevada City in early 2016. My studio here is within walking distance of downtown Nevada City. Our cars match my color scheme (teal, yellow) and are arranged, not parked, to the side of my workshop.