Arts are the lifeblood of the community in Dayton.
Willis “Bing” Davis was born in Greer, S.C., but grew up in Dayton, where he lives today. He graduated from DePauw University in Indiana in 1959. Much of his career was spent teaching art in Dayton Public Schools, DePauw and Miami universities, and 20 years at Central State University in Wilberforce. He is acting treasurer of the National Conference of Artists and has exhibited in galleries across the globe.
Livability caught up with the founder and director of SHANGO: Center for the Study of African American Art and Culture and the owner of Willis Bing Davis Studio & EbonNia Gallery to ask about his prolific career and being an artist in Dayton.
Happiness! It’s what I enjoyed the most. In fifth grade, I said I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I knew going in, making a living would be tough. The reason I chose art over other professions is I was happiest when I was making art.
Constant changes! When we started, it was just the beginning of the revitalization. I’ve seen a lot of positive growth and changes in the community and in the city. We’ve been a part of that growth and development by being a professional artist and serving the community with summer camps and working with emerging artists.
The creative community in any city is vital to its growth. It’s a primary amenity that makes a community rich and vital. Keeping arts in education is another important key to supporting the future of the arts. Dayton is fortunate to have a large core of highly skilled and creative arts organizations for a city its size. That’s the result of past support and hopefully continuing patronage.
“The reason I chose art over other professions is I was happiest when I was making art.”
Willis “Bing” Davis
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