Lee Baxter Davis was born at Bryan, Texas on October 20, 1939. He enlisted in the regular army out of high school. Afterwards he attended college and graduated with a master’s degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His best friend in both undergraduate and graduate school was James Surls.
Lee taught fine art graphics at East Texas State University, now Texas A&M Commerce, for over thirty years. He was full professor and was chairman of printmaking and later taught advanced drawing and figure drawing. Now retired, Davis is a deacon serving at St. William the Confessor Catholic Church, Greenville, Texas. He has been married to his college sweetheart over 50 years. They have two adult children and ten grandchildren. He works in his studio at home.
His prints and drawings have been exhibited throughout the United States and are included in many permanent collections.
These works of mine are narrative drawings that attempt to illustrate some aspects of the duality of being. Let us call them "myth plays." Most of us are aware of these dualities since we live in a visible and invisible reality. For example, there is the body and the soul, the flesh and the spirit. There is the two-fold experience of reason and passion. My considerations are influenced by myths, philosophy and theology. The effects of auditory processing disorder cause me to process thoughts, not in words, but images. Dominated by the tyranny of the outer and inner eye, I choose poetic logic over scientific reason, though I know full-well that the two must be united. Consequently, my base aesthetic tends to the romantic of more, rather than the utilitarian of less and is shorn up by formal dynamic composition. The problem is that I must find a way in which energetic composition can hold together the many shapes and images as an essence of one.
Looking down into the agitated waters of the collective memory pool, imagination constructs cosmologies of the invisible. What is above? What is below? What is beyond?
What is in front of me? My "spirit animal" seems to nip at the heels of the Roman two-faced god, Janus, that looks to the future and the past. Janus is the prototype of the faces of tragedy and comedy, ergo, the label "myth-plays."
Based on personal experience as a maker of narrative art, I relate to the minor prophet Jonah and his big fish. Jonah's story is, I believe, a classic comedy. I, like Jonah, would prefer to run away, but when I try the "Big Fish" gobbles me up and spits me out again. There I am, spit out on the pictorial stage scratching out confounding ciphers to the nervous laughter of disbelief in what we know is true. I grew up seeing death out of the corner of my eye.
My brother and I were the wards of our grandparents. We called them Mama and Papa. Papa was a Methodist preacher. Our home was a parsonage and our playground was the graveyard behind the church. The unwritten rule was to never step on the graves. Graveyards are a kind of sculpture garden.