02/23/05 — Former soldier channels energy into his paintings

View Archive

Former soldier channels energy into his paintings

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 23, 2005 2:06 PM

Wilmington artist Harry Davis has been confined to a wheelchair since being struck in the spine by a bullet when he was in the Army. Although he cannot walk, his strength remains, reflected in his paintings. Davis has managed to channel his passion for art and life into his brushstrokes. Over the last 30 years, he has become widely recognized as one of the top black artists in the country.

Davis recently visited several Wayne County schools as part of Black History Month. Allison Malpass, an art teacher at North Drive Elementary School, said Davis's visit was made possible through a grant from the Arts Council of Wayne County.

Davis spoke to students about his craft and not allowing a disability to limit one's capabilities. He said he never had any formal art training, but learned by trial and error.

Prior to the accidental shooting when he was in the 82nd Airborne, Davis said, he had never even picked up a paint brush. Art proved to be therapeutic and became a form of expression, he said. He also talks openly with students about his disability and is an advocate for gun safety.

Davis' art style is impressionistic realism. His collection has depicted African life and the rural American south, with several pieces featuring jazz musicians and vintage boxers triumphing in victory. The vibrant paintings have been purchased by businesses as well as such notable celebrities as Halle Berry, Bill Cosby and Denzel Washington.

At Dillard Middle School, art teacher Bernadette Hamilton called Davis an inspiration to students and said his words and wisdom made a positive impression.

He left another lasting mark at the school, an autographed limited edition of his painting, "After the Drought."