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Globe-trotting photographer opening exhibit

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Greg DavisGreg DavisBy Emily Banks Wooten
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“Oaxacan Gold – Illuminating Mystical Mexico,” an art exhibit curated by Livingston High School Graduate Greg Davis, an esteemed National Geographic contributing photographer, will be exhibited from May 10 through August 13 at the new Art Center Waco. The series features 35 limited edition photographs accompanied by five mediums of folk art by master Mexican artists.

“Cortes came to the new world looking for gold, but he found something way more valuable … the people, its culture and its traditions,” Davis said.

The May 7 opening night celebration sold out in three days. It is a ticketed multimedia art and cultural experience featuring Davis’ photography, a 20-person dance performance by Ballet Folklorico de Austin and the folk art of grand master folk artists Jacobo and Maria Angeles (alebrije which are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures), Carlomagno Pedro Martinez (barro negro, or “black clay,” which is a style of pottery distinguished by its color, sheen and unique designs), Alejandro Vera (masks), Jose and Teresita Garcia Antonio (ceramics), Magdalena Pedro Martinez (black potter) and the Mendoza family (textiles). Opening night participants will also experience “The Taste of Oaxaca” by El Alebrije and ChefATX complimented by “The Spirit of Oaxaca” tastings of Mezcal Vago and Wahaka Mezcal.

The purpose of “Oaxacan Gold” is to illuminate the mystical southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Davis began photographing and producing the multimedia cultural experience in 2018.

This was his sophomore large-scale, multimedia project–the first being, “India’s Kumbh Mela,” which premiered at the Museum of the Southwest and followed the stories of individual pilgrims to the 2013 Kumbh Mela, the largest religious pilgrimage in history. It was accompanied by Davis’ first short documentary film, “Cloth Paper Dreams,” and shared with eight museums, art centers and cultural centers in Texas.

“The purpose of my work is to serve as a reminder to us that we are all part of something greater than ourselves. At a faster rate than ever before, our world is shrinking, and traditional cultures are at risk. It is imperative that we be aware of and respect the diversity of our planet as well as our unprecedented need to preserve it,” Davis said.

He is the recipient of the 2017 Ambassador of the Year award for the Austin non-profit Well Aware, which provides innovative and sustainable solutions to the problems of water scarcity and contamination in Africa.

After quitting his job in 2004 and selling most of his possessions, Davis went on a yearlong global soul-searching expedition. Nine months in, fate intervened to put him face to face with a Black Hmong blanket weaver in the highlands of Northern Vietnam. It was then that he captured an image that, unbeknownst to him, would weave their fates together and fill him with a new sense of purpose—to weave the world a little closer through his photography.

Currently a contributing photographer for National Geographic/Disney, Davis was represented by the National Geographic Image Collection for over a decade. A fourth-generation Baylor University alum, he said he credits an Art Center Waco gallery talk for inspiring his current artistic journey. He has worked his way from local festivals to international exhibitions and his works now hang in private and institutional collections worldwide.

All pieces from Davis’ collections are printed on archival museum rag paper using 12-color archival pigment inks, then treated with a protective UV coating to further protect and maximize the archivability of the works. Each piece is hand-signed, numbered in a limited edition of 50, titled, embossed and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

He is currently offering his latest traveling exhibit, “Oaxacan Gold,” to art centers and museums around the nation.

“The purpose of this exhibition is to bring awareness to the stunning beauty, cultural depth and mystical nature of the great Mexican state of Oaxaca through an educational multimedia cultural experience of photography, folk art, textiles, dance and music,” Davis said.

Art Center Waco is located at 701 S. 8th St. in Waco. The phone number is (254)752-4371 and the website is artcenterwaco.org. More of Davis’ work may be seen at gregdavisphotography.com

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