Mr. Davis was almost forty when he took his first pottery class in 1974. He had held many titles in his life up until that point, including banker, pastor, actuary and political activist. But it was during that first pottery class that Mr. Davis found what he considered his destiny. From there, Mr. Davis studied at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, before receiving a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts grant in the early 1980s to spend a year at the Baltimore Clayworks, a center for the ceramic arts.
While in residence at Baltimore Clayworks, Mr. Davis began experimenting with shino, a Japanese style glaze. Over the years, he perfected his technique and recipe, creating pottery that did not have the customary milky-white glaze of shino, and instead boasted a variety of color and drama on every piece.
“Malcolm’s Shino” was a ground-breaking development that, true to his generous nature, Mr. Davis released to the world, rather than keeping the recipe for himself. It is now used in clay studios throughout the United States and Europe, where he taught and lectured widely.
“People said Malcolm was larger than life,” Mrs. Davis recalls. “He loved teaching and people and traveling. He was curious and generous. A major contributor to the 20th century ceramic world, Malcolm’s work deserves to be available on-line for all to study and utilize.
The Malcolm Davis Living Legacy Fund for Ceramics will fund a graduate assistantship to begin in 2019 and continue through 2022. The selected graduate student will study the work of Mr. Davis, test and catalog glaze recipes, prepare online resources, and publish a Retrospective Tribute to Malcolm Davis. The student will study Mr. Davis’ work under WVU’s Ceramic faculty.
“This work will be a valuable international resource to students, artists, archivists and friends throughout the world,” Mrs. Davis said. “I want to honor Malcolm’s life and legacy with this gift because Malcolm’s life as a potter with a non-traditional arts education needs to be shared.”
A long-time resident of Washington, D.C., Mr. Davis created his finest work in his studio and kiln in Upshur County, making WVU the natural and prime location to honor his life and work.
“Leadership in WVU’s College of Creative Arts had the foresight to recognize Malcolm’s contributions, and to find a way through this Project to further share all he learned in an easily accessible way,” Mrs. Davis said.