Artist & Activist Audrey Davis
One this episode of Rodney Veal’s Inspired By, our host sits down with special guest Audrey Davis, an artist, a social activist, and teacher here in Dayton, OH. She and her husband, renowned artist Bing Davis, have spent their lives fighting for change and a more beautiful future for people everywhere. Hear her story and learn what Rodney thinks makes her so iconic.
[00:00:29] Rodney Veal: So welcome everyone to the podcast Rodney Veals inspired by I’m your host Rodney Veal, and I am super excited today because we’re going to have a conversation this afternoon with the iconic Audrey Davis artists, activists, community spirit. person who convenes folks, then gets things done and champion for all that’s good in, in our, in our, in Dayton, Ohio.
[00:00:56] So, and beyond, mind you, there’s so many things.[00:01:00] Welcome Audrey Davis.
[00:01:02] Audrey Davis: I am so glad to be here. Glad to be here. Speak with you always.
[00:01:09] Rodney Veal: I love it. Audrey, this is super exciting. And Audrey is at Ebony galleries. That’s the studio space that she and Bing, run, own, operate, do all magical things at, and so we’re just having a conversation today. So Audrey, I, I’ve, I’ve known you and I’ve, I’ve, I’ve come to know you and, but I, for our audience, I want to like let people know and understand how someone can be so like ingrained in a community and a society and a culture and, and it’s just, just all around being.
[00:01:44] Super cool. So how, how did this all begin for you, Audrey?
[00:01:50] Audrey Davis: You know, I think it’s part of it is my entire life has always been dedicated to community. I had a, [00:02:00] my parents were very involved in, in community. And so that’s all I’ve ever known is to be involved in whatever you’re doing is to put your feet in and do it.
[00:02:11] So that’s all I know. My parents did it. And so that’s what I do. So that’s how I became involved is because that’s what, what you do as part of the community is to really be part of it.
[00:02:27] Rodney Veal: And so what I love about that, and I don’t know this, and are you, you’re not a native Daytonian are you? No,
[00:02:34] Audrey Davis: no I’m not.
[00:02:35] I’m from, I was raised in Indianapolis. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. I spent Close to zero time there, like I left when I was in the month, but most of my time was, was raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which is culturally much like Dayton. So, you know, the culturally they’re much the same Midwestern with the same [00:03:00] kind of mentality and movements.
[00:03:03] And so that’s where I was raised and, you know, all the way through high school and then went to college in Indiana also. So Indianapolis and Indiana is my base.
[00:03:15] Rodney Veal: Oh, that is, you consider that to be the base. But you, but you’ve made date in your homes, which is, you know, which is really great.
[00:03:22] Audrey Davis: You know, really, I’m not, I just happened, it just happened to hit me.
[00:03:26] I’ve been here almost 50 years.
[00:03:30] Rodney Veal: Really? Yes. Oh, my goodness. Okay. All right.
[00:03:33] Audrey Davis: My, my husband is from this city and he absolutely adores this city. So this is his home. And I followed him from Indiana. That’s not unusual. But that’s how I ended up in Dayton, was following my mate. Who is a, who loves Dayton and has always been involved in Dayton.
[00:03:56] So I just fell right into following him [00:04:00] into his love of Dayton.
[00:04:03] Rodney Veal: I love it. I really
[00:04:05] Audrey Davis: love it. Some wonderful people here, exceptional. The arts activities here in Dayton, Ohio is exceptional. Bottom line, just for a city this size, it’s amazing. It’s amazing. Quality art, and artist. So, I’m glad to be here.
[00:04:27] So, these 40, 47 years I’ve been here, 47 years, about 47, 48 years. Yeah, close to 50, yeah.
[00:04:37] Rodney Veal: They’ve been good. And well, you know, you’re you and you and being as a couple and just your presence in our community has been such a catalyst for, for other artists to kind of realize that you could have roots in the Midwest, but have influence that goes beyond.
[00:04:55] And one of the things that’s really interesting. I was like, because full [00:05:00] caveat to those who are listening to the conversation. Yeah. We are producing a documentary on Bing Davis Audrey’s husband. But also, it’s, it’s not just a Bing story, it’s a community story, but it’s a Bing and Audrey story, it’s a Bing and his family, and it’s his daughter and, and son.
[00:05:16] And so, there’s a lot to the story, and you’re, you’re a huge part of it. I mean and that’s, I, I find it just really fascinating. It’s like, so, it’s… This notion. I love what you said. Just like that thing has a deep love for Dayton and it shows it shows
[00:05:32] Audrey Davis: and he always has. And it’s great support from the city and certain individuals and groups.
[00:05:40] He’s had great support and he has a love and appreciation that’s truly deserved because Dayton has really given being a sense of who he is and where it’s going and how important that he is. You know, so he’s, he’s indebted to Dayton [00:06:00] and without hesitation he will tell you that, you know, Dayton is his home and that’s where he feels the most support.
[00:06:07] And that’s where he wants to be.
[00:06:09] Rodney Veal: I love it. And well, and also too, it’s like, you know, there’s a lot of love that comes your way as well. I mean, when I mentioned that I was interviewing you, interviewing you Audrey for the podcast, people were like, Oh, Audrey, Miss Audrey, Mama Audrey. I was like, Oh, I was like, I mean, Mama Audrey, and it is so well deserved because you have, you have spoken to me on so many things about, you know.
[00:06:33] Where to go and things and I’m and I’m still trying to get this dance piece done Mama, Audrey, so just know you like she’s she’s really inspired me to try to create this work based upon James Bates Artistry, so that’s a
[00:06:49] Audrey Davis: you’re a rare and wonderful young man So it’s easy one to try to encourage you because you broke you’ve got so much already in you [00:07:00] if I could just be a bit Touch the say put it out there.
[00:07:04] I’m encouraging you because you’ve got so much greatness in you and more to come So I want to encourage do it do it do it do it
[00:07:12] Rodney Veal: I, you know, and the thing is, I, I thank you as I’m honored and, but I want to tell people this, but this is what you, this is how you are with everyone that you come in contact with, who’s being creative and who is showcasing and trying to make change in the community.
[00:07:27] You always have these helpful words.
[00:07:29] Audrey Davis: I am so fortunate to be guided in a sense. I can recognize greatness, and I think most people do recognize greatness. So I, I, I don’t have a problem with saying to someone when I recognize that they have something special, Hey, you’ve got something special.
[00:07:50] And I think it’s a thing, something that should be shared regularly. If you think someone has something, share that something or encourage [00:08:00] people. I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. And I do that without hesitation, if that person warrants it. There’s a zillion people who don’t, but there’s a whole bunch who do and who, you know, are so deserving of encouragement and more, more, much more, especially our, our, I ache, I ache for our children.
[00:08:25] And that’s the truth there too, because I would love to see our children have more time and
[00:08:36] to show what their greatness. Since we don’t go to church as much as anymore, we don’t have, we’re not grooming the speakers. We’re not grooming the singers. We’re not grooming the people that come up and present their stuff. So and it’s not just the church that’s missing out, but some other activities that’s missing [00:09:00] out.
[00:09:00] So our children don’t have a place or a sense that of their greatness or a place that they can show their greatness. And so that gives me an ache. I would love to say I’m building this to show and to expose our children and to give them a space where they can show their stuff because they have stuff in them that they want to share too.
[00:09:25] Most of the time, unfortunately our children never even get the chance to show their greatness. Most of the time they don’t. And that, that, that’s a heartache because you, you, if you’re one that can see, and I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about. You see, I do. And growing up, they never get a chance to say or show what they have, but you can see it.
[00:09:52] You know it’s there, but then they end up not experiencing [00:10:00] that joy that you get from sharing your stuff with others. And that’s a missing part that is a joy that’s missing for people if they don’t get a chance to share and show.
[00:10:13] Rodney Veal: I, I, I so agree with that and you know, it’s when I was listening to you, it’s like, it’s spoken like a true educator.
[00:10:20] You, you know, I, I, I believe that some people say, yes, I’m a teacher, right? But there’s. There are some people that are teachers, you know, and you are a teacher, you’re, because you believe in this, you have this philosophy and we have to share the same thing. It’s like there’s specialness in every student, child and as an educator,
[00:10:41] Audrey Davis: it may not be the exact same thing, but there’s,
[00:10:46] Rodney Veal: Yeah.
[00:10:46] And we, and our job is to help provide a space for them to, to, to allow it to shine, to allow it to grow and develop because we can’t predict the future. I mean it, but we can control the presence [00:11:00] and, and, and make a safe place. And I mean, I, it was really interesting to me because it was, you know, cause I’m digging into Bing’s archives, which is basically digging into your life and Bing’s.
[00:11:09] I mean, you are an educator for, and, and, and, and, What grades did you teach? I taught,
[00:11:15] Audrey Davis: when you were an educator, I taught the most important grades. I taught, when I say the most important grades, that that’s the beginning. I taught kindergarten and first grade and second grade because that’s that’s where kids really get a thirst for learning.
[00:11:36] When they realize they’ve got something or that they’ve learned something. You can see that spark, and you can see that joy, and you can direct and encourage. Kindergarten and first grade is where they learn to read and process what they’ve learned and appreciate. Also, those are the grades where they learn to express themselves [00:12:00] in drawing, writing, movement.
[00:12:04] So I love those beginning grades because they’re so real. They will tell you and show you. Whatever. I love those. Kindergarten and first grades are so major. You can get into them and they’ll keep that thirst for knowledge forever if you’re able to touch them when they’re young and get them in there and get in their brains and get them in that thirst for knowing more, getting more, wanting more.
[00:12:34] So those are very, those are very important ages. To get into the kids spirit and minds and so that’s what I taught and that’s what I love to do. So yes, that’s my grade. I like the babies.
[00:12:50] Rodney Veal: You love the babies. I do. I love their honesty. I love the joy, the smiles. It’s an honest smile. You know, do you know what I’m saying?
[00:12:59] [00:13:00] It’s just, it’s pure. And so, I appreciate it too. And I don’t teach the younger kids as much because I teach a lot of older. Right. Just because I, for some odd reason, people think that I, you know, teaching advanced level ballet is where my world is
[00:13:15] Audrey Davis: It’s a difference, yeah, you have to, It’s a difference, it’s a, it’s a, You have to do what you, where you are, what you fit in, cause it’s hard to teach ballet to a five year old.
[00:13:27] But you can teach movement.
[00:13:29] Rodney Veal: You teach different, so, yeah. Yeah, very much so. I can teach movement to 5 year olds. But teaching ballet is, that’s that is going into a different realm. So, yeah, I love it. And, you know, it’s really, because it was so interesting, because when I, when I, Educator. I said that explains a lot, but then it’s like, but also, but it explains how you see that connected to community.
[00:13:53] I mean, so in many ways, you’re still teaching by who you interact with and [00:14:00] who you engage with in the community. And, and, and anyone who knows. You and being, I mean, your presence is always welcome and appreciated in spaces because it just allows the it changes the energy in the room. It changes the focus.
[00:14:16] It changes it from being just an event to an experience where you treasure the memories and the visuals. I mean, I could be speaking only for myself, but I doubt it. I really do think that there’s a difference in that. Do you do you feel Do you, by being connected to the community and doing things in the community, do you think you even, do you also instill that in young, when you were teaching, did you also instill that in young people as well, that community matters?
[00:14:47] I mean, when did, when did we start teaching community matters? I guess there’s a question of my curiosity.
[00:14:51] Audrey Davis: It’s hard to get away from that. Who do you live next door to? Where do you live? Do you know your address, your phone number? Who’s around you? [00:15:00] What’s important? Who, you know, community starts early.
[00:15:04] Very early and who is, who’s watching out over you? That’s part of your community. Who can you go to if you need some help? That’s part of your community. All those kinds of things. It’s part of, of what makes up the person. Do you feel safe? Are you unsafe? Or do you even have a sense of community? Or are you one of those people who feel like you are just not in it at all?
[00:15:29] And then that’s, those are dangerous. That’s dangerous. When you, when you don’t feel like you’re apart and you’re disconnected that’s, that’s very dangerous place to be for any person not to feel a sense of belonging. So community has always been important and it starts very young. Some, somehow, some, we have forgotten how important our communities are.
[00:15:59] We, [00:16:00] we’ve allowed, we’ve relied on. Schools to be, to do the answer, or we separate it into a community center, or maybe we’ll put it onto the church and not realizing it’s just the parents, the home, the all, it’s all of us, and it’s not all of us, all of us, we can’t just separate and say we have to only rely on just the schools to do it because they can’t.
[00:16:23] They’re going to fail and they have in many ways because we put too much pressure and too much emphasis on that portion of it. That’s just my opinion.
[00:16:32] Rodney Veal: Oh, I know. It’s, it’s, it’s a perfectly valid. It’s a lived experience because you, you’ve been an educator for so long and a teacher of so many levels. And so.
[00:16:42] I’m kind of curious how that, how that’s connected to creativity. I mean, I honestly, you know, I think, I think you would agree. I’m curious your thoughts about how that informs someone getting, becoming creative that sense of community and that sense of learning. I mean, how important is it, this [00:17:00] community to making art?
[00:17:01] Audrey Davis: Are you, you making the art part of part, this is my opinion again, partially because. I’m, I’m one of the people who is a creator. I’m not saying that I’m a fine artist because I know I’m not. I have not had any training into being a fine artist. But I create stuff. I make things and I enjoy that. So that’s my pleasure.
[00:17:27] I enjoy it and I have the opinion that we have creativity in all of us. Everybody has it. Even the way you pick your clothes out. It’s in us. It’s a natural, say, I like these certain colors. Those are things that are just natural to you. So we’re all creative beings, one way or another. It could be a creative in the way you move.
[00:17:57] Sometimes, if the way you move can affect [00:18:00] somebody else, you know you’ve got something special. And so, these are just so simple, but it’s in everybody. It’s just sometimes we’ve been conditioned and talked differently. Right. Yeah. Artists are the weird ones. Or something like that.
[00:18:20] Rodney Veal: I love it. Well, you know, it’s really interesting because there’s Jerry Salts is a critic in New York Magazine and he says, we are the artists and creatives are the smelly shamans who live at the side of the edges of the village and we should pay attention to what they are observing and seeing and bringing into the community.
[00:18:40] And I think that’s so true. I mean, it’s like, it’s all in this. I mean, I see people being creative all the time and I think you sell yourself short on the, on, on the Fine artistry. Cause I, I’m a firm believer. You don’t need training. It is about the fact that you do the work and you do the work and it’s beautifully exceptional and you make beautiful, incredible sculptural [00:19:00] jewelry pieces that speak to community and it speaks to culture.
[00:19:03] And that’s a, how, I mean, and, and especially because it’s, it’s, it’s, The authenticity of the connective threads to being an African American come through in your work and how important it is. I know it’s important to Bing, but I know it’s also important to you. And so it’s like, so that’s why I go, it’s not about having degrees.
[00:19:24] I really am, you are an artist, you are an exceptional artist. I mean, you’re making things that stand out as signature pieces that make people that speak to you as, as the art maker. And they speak to your cultural reference points, but they speak to such a wide audience of, of, of men and women who want to wear your work.
[00:19:46] So. You got it going on, Audrey. You got it going on.
[00:19:54] Audrey Davis: I enjoy making the art, but I enjoy it because I, I like it making it. [00:20:00] And if someone responds to it, that’s even a, that’s a plus. But I enjoy making things with natural stones, natural things that are already made. And then I use the polymer clay to.
[00:20:17] Because you can, you get the colors and things with the polymer clay and you can mix them up. And with the polymer clay I’m able to make things that are, remind you of Africa. And that’s because I am African and I recognize that. And want to share the, some of the things about Africa have been overshadowed, hidden.
[00:20:51] We, we have a limited, very, a very limited knowledge of Africa and it’s [00:21:00] people, I should say peoples, because there’s many cultures and they’re not all the same. So it’s, it’s, it’s not, it’s not an easy thing to say, I’d like to represent African culture because there’s more than just one different, yeah, but I would like to accent or elevate or have people recognize when they see.
[00:21:22] Certain things that, hey, that’s an African piece. Or that reminds me of, because of the feel of it, the look of it, the boldness, the colors. That something will put you back to thinking that’s Africa. No matter what culture it may be. But sometimes it’s color, sometimes it’s a bold shape. But, but I do like to recognize Africa as a focal point for my work.
[00:21:52] I think I want, I want. More information on Africa and African cultures, [00:22:00] because we have been some, most of the time, deliberately undereducated about Africa. And we don’t know, we don’t, and it’s not just, it’s not just me doesn’t know, but the world doesn’t know. So I would like to encourage the world to know more about African cultures, because they don’t know.
[00:22:21] We don’t.
[00:22:21] Rodney Veal: No, they don’t. We don’t. No, we, we, we really don’t. And, and as, and, and as, as, as someone who is of African descent as well, it’s that recognizing now, as I’m making that, that my history and the culture that I come from influences why I make the decisions I make and just embracing that, which is, I say that to anyone in their cultures, like you need to embrace your personal history, but then step back.
[00:22:48] Okay. And really embrace a global perspective of what influences you. And so, and I love it because, cause you just, you and Bing just recently, I [00:23:00] love the fact that because we’re doing the documentary that you guys, you and Bing just got back from South Africa, which I mean, I, I, that what was, I mean, the thing is, and that was another experience where, cause it was at maker’s valley.
[00:23:12] And. You were and engaging with artists from all over the continent, right? It wasn’t just South African artists, it was artists from all over all, all over. Talk, talk, talk to us. Talk to us about that. I mean, ’cause I’m just, I, I was dying to know, like, how was the trip?
[00:23:27] Audrey Davis: You know, for, for me it was life changing.
[00:23:33] I’m saying life changing because it encouraged me to step up more. Because, oh yeah, step up more, because we, we need to work hard, harder, to share and to show. Because there’s so much, you know there’s so many different cultures. And when we went to Makers Valley, just [00:24:00] seeing the different people. From different nations, I’ll just say nations, of different cultures, body structures were different facial features were different, and just seeing that and saying, no, could I be part of this group over here, or am I part of this group over here, and, and as an African American, not knowing which of these, you know, so I had, so I’m seeing facial features, and body structures, and, Different types of looks and say where do I fit in and what nation or what and and along with these go different Customs different foods all those things help to make up this world and to eliminate one group of people
[00:24:50] Rodney Veal: As to one clump.
[00:24:52] Yeah Yeah, the variety.
[00:24:54] Audrey Davis: Yeah, it’s and it’s a very diverse cotton with lots of different [00:25:00] So I enjoyed the trip and I learned a lot I, and, and, and had a, have a lot more questions too. I had great, I learned positive stuff, but also learned some negative stuff. The negative stuff that hit me hardest was acknowledging that the indigenous people and the people who, the earth people from around the world, I’m talking about African, I’m talking about Native Americans, the indigenous people from our continent.
[00:25:38] Those people, and also aborigines, the indigenous people, those are the land people. In every, every place you go, they have been squashed to the point, yes, and you know that. We know it. Right, we know it. We know that the Native Americans. have been, you know, [00:26:00] put into unbearable situations where their foods and their customs, every, we know that that’s happened.
[00:26:09] Africa, we know that that’s happened. We know that those cultures have been pushed down and squashed and manipulated. We know that the aborigines, some people don’t even know that there even were abonit, or are abonit. They don’t even know the history. They don’t even know that they had Also were imprisoned and taken their children away from them, just as they did the Native Americans.
[00:26:34] So in every major continent, all the peoples that were land peoples or taking care of the land for centuries, they came in and squashed them to the point that each of these people, major people, that had been living there for thousands of years and done what they’ve done and taken care of the land, they come in and make the people into [00:27:00] alcoholics.
[00:27:01] And these because they are squashed and crushed and changed people. I hope you understand all that I’m saying.
[00:27:16] Rodney Veal: Oh, I do. I know. And I think that’s the world.
[00:27:19] Audrey Davis: So all the major land people indigenous to wanting to take care of the land have been squashed. So now the other people who are not truly indigenous and loving the land, they Destroyed it.
[00:27:39] Destroyed the waters. Destroyed the, we’re in trouble. We’re in trouble. But if we had, had been more conscious and worked with the indigenous populations of all these places, we would have been in a better place than we are right now. Rather than just squash those people and do away with their customs, [00:28:00] we should have worked with them.
[00:28:01] But that’s past tense now. We’ve got to try to make up and get things back on track. Some people are in process of destroying our earth.
[00:28:11] Rodney Veal: Yes, and, and I, I, I, and I’m grateful that you’re saying that because that just, because there are a lot of people that have a tendency to believe that our community, social activism can’t be one and the same and our It’s all together.
[00:28:25] It’s all together. I, I’m a firm believer. You can’t separate them. I mean, I try. I mean, I’ve tried God knows I’ve tried and I realized, you know, that, that you can’t be simply cannot, you have to take that into consideration. And so I love the fact that, that. What I love is the fact that you went to South Africa and you were still learning.
[00:28:43] Oh, absolutely. Like you’re still growing and you still want to do more. I think of myself like, Audrey, how many more things can you add to your day?
[00:28:51] Audrey Davis: I wish I had two or three or ten lives because there’s much needs to be done and there’s [00:29:00] much that could be done. We just need to find the right people. Who are willing to work and make some changes. Some people with money
[00:29:13] don’t have the vision. Or some people with the vision don’t have the money. You know, but we can find a way. You know, cause some of these problems could be alleviated. With, with serious effort and I’m sure they could.
[00:29:28] Rodney Veal: Oh, I totally agree. I totally agree. So what we’re going to do is going to take a little bit of a quick break and then we’re going to come back and we’re going to talk some more to Audrey about art, community and being iconic.
[00:29:40] Audrey Davis: See, I don’t even understand that part of iconic.
[00:29:43] Rodney Veal: I’ll let you, I will explain it to you. I will explain it to you. I will explain it to you.
[00:30:36] Rodney Veal: Okay, we are back. And Audrey, you had asked me the question of iconic. And so my definition is, is not the Webster Dictionary definition of iconic is someone iconic is something that when you, you, you experience a person or thing, but you’re not a thing because you’re a person, you’re real, you’re a human being that [00:31:00] That you instantly know there are things about them that are definitive statement, honest, artistic, cool, driven, inspiring, beautiful.
[00:31:19] I mean, the list goes on, you know what I’m saying? Like, it’s, and so when you see someone who is, when you say someone’s iconic, you just go, you know what? They are all the, I call it the creamy goodness of humanity rolled into, into a being, and that’s. That’s iconic. That is iconic in my definition. So that is what you are.
[00:31:38] You are iconic.
[00:31:39] Audrey Davis: So I love what you’re saying. I would love to say I’ll take that all in.
[00:31:44] Rodney Veal: No, it’s, it’s, and it’s true. And it’s so, and that’s what I love. That’s what I love. About you and the work that you do and what and who you are, it’s not even just the work, it’s who you are, which is, that’s the, that’s what makes iconic.
[00:31:57] And so, you know, that’s why when I, when I [00:32:00] said I would talk to you earlier that people were like, Oh, you’re talking to Mama Audrey and they’re just, their faces lit up. And I just said, you know what? That’s what iconic people do. They, when you say their name, people smile, they get excited. And so that’s, you know, that’s what we are.
[00:32:16] So there, and I have a question for you and I’m going to get this, I’m going to get the name of the group wrong because it did a little digging. Cause I, that’s what we do here on the podcast. There’s a, and it was, and I, it’s a group of women that you have brought together. And, and, and, okay, the name of the group is Women Strong, or did I get the title wrong?
[00:32:41] Audrey Davis: That’s correct. That is correct. Women Strong. I realized quite early what influences women can have on each other. Women are a major force in [00:33:00] this world, period. So in my life’s journey… I have always been involved with women’s group from, you know,
[00:33:12] early on, middle school on, middle school on for sure. I’ve been involved with groups of women who are doing things. So, but this particular women’s group is a group of artists. What pulls us together is we’re all females. We all are involved in art, some of us more serious than others, but all of them have quality art.
[00:33:43] There’s, there’s one of the artists who doesn’t care if she sells anything or not.
[00:33:48] Rodney Veal: That’s me, I don’t care. I really don’t. You don’t, you don’t, okay.
[00:33:54] Audrey Davis: The artists are serious artists. The work that these women [00:34:00] produce is quality. They’re serious about their craft. But not only are they serious about their craft, they’re serious about uplifting the female, not overall female, because we are, we are more than half the earth’s population.
[00:34:17] So we might be up there with on that level, but these women, this, this particular women strong this women, they’re called generally women strong, but what makes this unique is that they’re from different cultures. We have African American culture, we have European cultures, plural, and I’m saying African American, that’s one, although there’s no certain one type of African American.
[00:34:51] Right. The European American that represents more than one culture in Europe. Some of them are German Americans, but we [00:35:00] also have Native American represented. When I say Native American, I mean, she’s part of an indigenous population, spent time on reservation, Native American. We also have Persian American, Chinese American,
[00:35:22] we have Jewish American. We all work together, showing our art to one another, we critique one another, we go to one another’s homes. So this is not just a regular art group. We go to each other’s homes, we sample your food. Is Chinese food, do you eat this on a regular? Do you decorate your home the same as this African American does?
[00:35:47] Do you, what particular statues do you emphasize in your home? What is it, what do Native Americans try to make sure that they have in their home? Is it different than something that a Jewish person may want to make sure that they have in there? [00:36:00] We just talk about our customs, our cultures. Plus we’re friends.
[00:36:05] We’ve been together since 2019, and we became friends very easily and quickly because that woman ness pulled us together, and the art pulled us together. And our goal, because we’re from different cultures, we want to let other people know that you can do the same thing. Have a book club, but branch out past your European people.
[00:36:35] Get some more people in there other than your African American booklet. Branch out. Get some Spanish people in there. Talk about other stuff. Get to know. Bottom line is what we’re trying to do is get to know your neighbors in Dayton because we’re all from Dayton area. And the same thing that we’re doing, we’re working together, loving together, having fun together, eating, sharing.
[00:36:58] The same thing should be done [00:37:00] easily. But, but unfortunately it takes some effort. Because for some reason a study was done that the majority of people in America have never had lunch, dinner, or a meal with someone in their home that was of a different race. Seventy five percent of Americans, three fourths, have never.
[00:37:30] Let’s bring it down even more. Some people who are speaking out have never even touched. Another person of another race, we need to stop that kind of distance from one another, especially when your neighbors, sometimes you have somebody down the street, that’s of a different culture, and you don’t even know them, you don’t even speak to them, you’ve never even, when you don’t make [00:38:00] eye contact, so Women’s Strong is trying to encourage gays to reach out and get to know your neighbors, we’re part of your neighbors, and we’re, we do it, And we do it with great joy, and we want to share this with other people by showing our art.
[00:38:18] Our art is all different, but we also show our culture through our art, too. So that’s what Women Strong is all about. Still spreading a message of community. Dayton has too many wonderful, wonderful people. To be as disconnected as it is it And Dayton is a wonderful place, but it couldn’t be a better place.
[00:38:42] Rodney Veal: There you go I love it. And that is that is what makes you iconic Audrey is in the sense of these group of women I love the fact that you’re champion and supporting women and you’re absolutely right and as as a man, we should be allies To recognize the [00:39:00] power. I, someone asked me a question. It was, it was, it was yesterday and I was at an event in Cincinnati and they said they were talking about diversifying their organization and the board.
[00:39:10] I said, it’s not about. Oh, I must have this black person. I know I must have you because of what you bring to the table. Recognize their talent. Recognize their intelligence. Recognize that they are special and then get them to the table. This, the, the, the out, the outer coating is just an outer coating.
[00:39:34] It’s all the stuff that’s internal. And, and I love the fact that you talk about that because it’s like, it’s true. It’s like, if you, if you’re. If you’re, if you 75 percent have never broken bread or touched another person of color, how are you going to experience that, that art that’s being made by someone who is not, that is what you, I’m going to put it in the words that we use other.
[00:39:57] And that’s, that’s important. That’s absolutely important. That’s how we [00:40:00] break down the barriers to that understanding. And that was my response. I said, look, choose me because I’m bringing something to the table that you need. And you need somebody to you, Rodney, bring your. Bring your magic sauce, your special sauce and make it happen.
[00:40:15] And that’s what we should be doing for all people. And it’s like, and especially women. I, I, I’m like, I, I grew up in a very major on a mate, you know, African American community, the matriarchal homes the, I mean, so I had a mom and dad, but mom ran the show and she did. And, and I applaud her. And to this day, as a matter of fact, I need to call her on my, after this podcast, let’s call mom.
[00:40:41] That’s my, that’s my,
[00:40:43] Audrey Davis: we carry the culture, whether we, the male may not want to recognize it, but the women are really do care. They’re the ones who, Oh, we got to get the Easter outfit. They’re the ones who do that. Yes. Carry on the Thanksgiving, whatever the cultures, the women are the one who’s carrying that on.[00:41:00]
[00:41:00] So we need to open up our eyes and know what power we have and try to work with our power and to influence better with our So that’s part of what Limit Strong tries to encourage more together.
[00:41:17] Rodney Veal: I love it. I love it. And so, and so we talk about this togetherness because like I said, you’ve 47, 48 years in Dayton.
[00:41:27] So you’ve seen and experienced a lot of things and you talked about Dayton being. better. If there were one, if you had like, no, there was no barrier to it happening, what would be the one thing you would love to see happen in Dayton, Ohio? I mean, I’m kind of curious.
[00:41:47] Audrey Davis: I would love to see their education system sparked highly into the arts example.
[00:41:58] I would, yes. [00:42:00] The education, you know, I would love to have Dayton Art Institute on a monthly basis, have exhibits in every public school, many, you know, it doesn’t have to be big, big deal anything.
[00:42:15] Rodney Veal: You would change the arts education, you would actually make it.
[00:42:17] Audrey Davis: I would make it a major portion of the education because it’s so much in every kid. I mean, every kid it’s in them big time. So I would emphasize the arts from top to bottom.
[00:42:34] Even making sure that children were exposed earlier. Some children have zero exposure. Through their education so they can go to K 12 and never see a production. Never see a production. That’s, that’s, that’s, you know, so do they know what they would like to [00:43:00] do? Maybe, or what, what hits them if they’ve never seen anything?
[00:43:05] I remember growing up going, because the school provided transportation and the school made us go to symphonies. So it was, we had… We had music memory contests. The whole city was involved. It wasn’t just the school thing. Where you memorized portions of classical music. So you knew basic music.
[00:43:34] It just became part of it. We went to major institutions came to us as schools. And we, if we couldn’t get to them, they came to us. But they also made sure that they had blocks. Of tickets set aside for children who didn’t have the money for, and, and transportation was made available for those students [00:44:00] who wanted to be there, who didn’t have the finances.
[00:44:03] And that was just, it wasn’t just one school, it was just across the board, what everybody did, you had access to. And you had my, my, my growing up situation was totally different than most people because I went, went to an all black school. At a time when the teachers could not get positions. I don’t know how to say this.
[00:44:27] My education, my teachers had doctorates. So, when I went, yes, because my teacher, my science teacher, although he had a doctorate in, I’m just going to say biology. He he couldn’t get a job at a university because he was a black man. And at that time it wasn’t common to have black men do it. So, we had a large group of educators.
[00:44:53] At my high school and junior high, they had their doctorate. So [00:45:00] during my span of time, it wasn’t uncommon to have all my teachers with a PhD.
[00:45:09] Rodney Veal: Wow. That is, that’s, that’s highly unusual. I don’t think people really understand. But, but,
[00:45:15] Audrey Davis: but, but at that time it was common African American teachers with their terminal degree could not get a position in a university.
[00:45:26] So, it was common that they took a job at a high school. Mm hmm. And that happened to be where Crispus Attucks is where I went to school. Crispus Attucks was. But Crispus Attucks was also part of Indiana, right in the middle there. Crispus Attucks also was a school that Oscar Robinson went to. Oscar Robinson was a basketball player back in the day.
[00:45:51] Yes. And he was a very good basketball player. But anyway, at my school, They won the state championship [00:46:00] for the high school and usually the state championship, they get a parade and all these things But this was a black school. So they didn’t get their parade. They didn’t get their announcements or any of the things like that So I grew up in a time where blacks were not treated the same They did not receive their awards receive the accolades So even if he was the best of the best you got no recognition And what happened to addicts and the people that are going to school at that time and the teachers and the musicians.
[00:46:35] There’s a lot of positive things going on, but no recognition for the positive things.
[00:46:40] Rodney Veal: I’m looking at that, listening to this, and I’m realizing that this is, that’s that part of why we need to have your voice and, and other voices at the table and in the spaces because it’s a ref. Like you could tell those stories and they resonate and it, and it, it points to [00:47:00] things.
[00:47:00] It’s not necessarily It’s to allow for people to understand contextually that the pathways to get through the room are different. Absolutely.
[00:47:09] Audrey Davis: Absolutely. And sometimes you can say, how did this happen? And many times I do ask myself, how did this happen? Why am I in this particular place? And I always, it always comes back to, to tell the truth.
[00:47:26] To show a different, say whatever is. Because I am, I don’t have any higher intellect. Then they say, I’m not the greatest artist, I’m not above anybody, but I am able to show, share, and maybe that’s why I’m in this space, because I am a truth teller, and I’m thinking that’s what I’m supposed to do, is always tell the truth.
[00:47:53] It may not be like you like to hear it, but it’s my truth, it’s my truth, and that’s what I’m [00:48:00] supposed to do. This is what Granny told me, my grandmother, who I truly adored. I truly adore, she told me, Audrey, you have a right to tell your truth. It’s more than a right, you have a responsibility. And I took that to heart.
[00:48:22] From age six on, I knew I’m supposed to always tell the truth and I’m, otherwise if you don’t, if I don’t show myself to be honest and real, you’re not going to know the real me. So that’s my responsibility, is to always be honest and real. Otherwise you’re not going to know me. Cause I’d be faking it or something to do with playing that part or whatever.
[00:48:46] But the real me you’re going to see is because that’s my right and that’s my responsibility is to show you me and to be me and to be the best me that I can be. So you won’t, [00:49:00] I hope, ever catch me in a lie because it won’t be there. You won’t ever touch me. I’m going to always, I’m not going to ever do anything to hurt you, to harm you, so I always try to be the best me I can be so it’s that that part is an easy thing because it’s so ingrained and just be yourself and if you were telling your truth and being yourself and this is the best you Know how to be can’t ask for more unless you
[00:49:30] know Some people live their entire life Fake it. Yes, they do. Yes, they do.
[00:49:35] Rodney Veal: Yes, they do. Mama Audrey, that is such a true statement, and it’s not, and it’s, it’s not, it’s not necessary. It’s not. Like, it’s, there’s not, there’s not necessary. I, I, I mean, I thought to myself, when you’re saying this, I thought, okay, that was the ultimate mic drop.
[00:49:52] And so therefore it’s like, boom, that’s right. Be yourself. Tell the truth. Right. That’s it.
[00:49:57] Audrey Davis: Done. And sometimes it’s [00:50:00] very hard to look at yourself. And accept yourself, but that’s the first step, the first step and realizing you have a right to who and however you are, even if you’re the, you know, whatever it
[00:50:22] Rodney Veal: is, whatever it is, whatever it is,
[00:50:24] Audrey Davis: whatever it is, and
[00:50:26] Rodney Veal: it’s got to be
[00:50:27] Audrey Davis: true.
[00:50:28] It’s even better when you like yourself.
[00:50:30] Rodney Veal: Amen. It is so yes. Very true. Love it. I love it. Well, Mama Audrey, there we go. I mean, I can’t, what can I say? But thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and continuing to share your wisdom and your iconic stature within our world. And, and I look forward to our next conversation in person because that’s coming soon.
[00:50:58] You know, cause we, it’s [00:51:00] just, it’s always such a joy. And so thank you. You’re always
[00:51:03] Audrey Davis: so kind. That’s what makes you so special too. Because you are, you’re one of a kind. And continue to be that way. It’s okay. You could be a braggart and say, yes, that’s me. I’m wonderful.
[00:51:17] Rodney Veal: No, I don’t think my mom would allow it, but you’re, you’re my mom.
[00:51:21] I’m another mom would not allow it. Trust me. I, someone would call me out. I have enough aunties and uncles and moms and yeah. Yeah. It’ll never happen. It’ll never happen. Just not in the DNA. Just do the work. They were like,
[00:51:35] Audrey Davis: man, you know, but you’re doing such great things and continue to do what you’re doing.
[00:51:41] With your great smile and attitude, let nothing stop you because you’re doing good things. So continue.