Telfair presents the first exhibition to focus on depictions of creatures, real and imagined, in the work of noted Savannah wood sculptor Ulysses Davis (1914–1990). Born in Fitzgerald, Georgia, Davis taught himself to carve wood as a child and relocated to Savannah to establish a barbershop where he created his art. This exhibition explores Davis’ sculptures of beasts inspired by biblical stories, as well as fantastic creatures that sprang entirely from his fertile imagination. Works inspired by his religious faith include Samson and the Lion, made when he was 11, as well as his final work depicting the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Davis also created decorative works with animal images, from plaques featuring astrological symbols to embellished tabletops. Davis’ imagination reached its fullest expression, however, in his whimsical carvings of animal/human hybrids, extraterrestrial beings, and horned, reptilian creatures that he dubbed “created beasts.” Visitors are invited to explore Davis’ creatures in more than 30 works drawn from Telfair Museums, the Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center, and other private and public collections.
This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Harry DeLorme, director of education and senior curator.