Artist takes lint out of the dryer and onto the canvas

Most people find dryer lint in their pockets and throw it to the ground. Darryl Davis takes dryer lint and sticks it on a canvas. Not many people would see their laundry leftovers as a potential artistic medium, but Davis is sharing his unique art form with students at UK.
Davis is an artist who works with mixed mediums and focuses on black history. In the early 90s he began incorporating dryer lint into his art. His work has been displayed around UK in the past, and now one particular piece is returning for a nine-day display in the W.T. Young Library.
The piece is titled “9/11,” and is made from different mediums, including dryer lint. Davis said he was actually inspired to make the piece after being on UK’s campus right after the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001.


“People were distant and frightened,” he said. “They forgot the spirit of who they are.”
As an artist and a former member of the U.S. Navy, Davis decided he had to do something, so he created a piece of art meant to symbolize patriotism.
“People needed an uplift of their spirit,” he said. “They’ve got to have more faith in our country.”
After 9/11, Davis said people were scared about what might happen next. He said he uses art as a way to connect with people.
“Art reaches out. It enhances the mind,” Davis said. “We learn every day from art, all forms of art.”
Arturo Sandoval, a UK art professor familiar with Davis’ work, said the unusual use of dryer lint could serve a visual and a symbolic purpose.
“As an artist he sees it can add texture and dimension to a flat plain,” Sandoval said. “It’s also to help him get across the idea about materiality in the content of his work.”
Davis has had work displayed all over Kentucky, but UK has a personal connection to his art. Davis’ son is a student at the university, and his mother, Jean Whitney, also worked in the Lucille Little Fine Arts Library, where he has a permanent piece on display.
About three or four years ago, Davis visited campus and offered a piece of his artwork, said Gail Kennedy, a librarian in the Fine Arts Library. The only stipulation he gave was that it would be dedicated to the memory of his mother, Kennedy said.

The dryer lint piece is titled “Buffalo Soldiers in Spanish Style Hats.” Kennedy said she found the pieceinteresting because of the unique use of materials.
“It was very unfamiliar,” she said. “I had never seen art like that.”
There is artwork displayed around the library, but Kennedy said Davis’ work receives a lot of attention from people in the building. In fact, she said, people have stopped in looking specifically for his piece.
“We have had more comments on that particular piece than any other,” she said. “People have come in asking where the Darryl Davis piece is.”
“9/11” will be displayed in the atrium of the Young Library until Sept. 19. It is on display from about 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day. The piece goes into storage each night because it is “delicate,” said Gordon Hogg, a librarian in the M. I. King Library.
The piece was on display once before at UK in early 2002. Hogg said the library was interested in displaying it again because the timing was so appropriate.
“The main idea we had was to put it out on the anniversary of 9/11 because that’s what inspired him to do it,” he said.