Art gallery presents “Saints Re-Formed” exhibition, artist’s unique imagery brings paintings to life

October 7, 2019 | Stevens Art Gallery and Department of Art & Design |

The Harding University Stevens Art Gallery will feature an art exhibition titled  “Saints Re-formed” Monday, Oct. 7 through Thursday, Oct. 27. Local artist Tessa Davidson is known for her realistic oil paintings that utilize peculiar imagery to spark spiritual reflection.

The exhibit features 12 paintings and a video projection inspired by the legends and symbols of historic saints but with a modern twist. The paintings range in size from 18 inches by 24 inches to 6 feet by 6 feet, depicting figures in an isolated setting.

“I am very excited about the completion of this body of work, and I am grateful that the exhibition tour will kick off in Searcy,” said Davidson. “All the models who participated in the project live in this area and are remarkable examples of who I consider modern-day saints.”

The project was inspired by Davidson’s interest in Medieval and Renaissance art history, fields of study dominated by images of Christian saints. In March 2019, Davidson traveled to Assisi, Italy, and drew inspiration from significant sites and stories connected with the life of Francis of Assisi.

“I continue to be mystified by historical depictions of these religious figures,” said Davidson. “I’m intrigued by how they are portrayed in art, and how the strange and symbolic objects associated with them remind viewers of events from their life or martyrdom. In this project, I wanted to explore these artistic traditions and discover how the ideas behind these symbols might speak to a broader, contemporary audience.”

Davidson’s work has been exhibited internationally, and she received her Master of Fine Arts from the New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2018. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Arts in art education and a Master of Education in secondary education from Harding University, as well as a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Arkansas in Little Rock. Davidson is currently serving in her first year as an assistant professor of art at Harding University. To find out more about her work, visit tessadavidsonartist.com.

A reception will be held at the gallery on Saturday, Oct. 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information about this exhibit as well as other upcoming events in the art department, visit harding.edu/art or call 501-279-4426. To learn more about special events and services offered by the University, visit harding.edu/community.

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