A few questions with Miya Bailey and Corey Davis

Muriel Vega talks to Corey Davis and Miya Bailey about their new exhibition at Nelson Street Gallery.



In their first show as collaborators, Corey Davis and Miya Bailey present their large body of work at the Nelson Street Gallery in Windows to Nowhere. Largely known as tattoo artists at City of Ink, Davis and Bailey have also explored several other media, from Bailey’s documentary Color Outside the Lines to Davis’ EPs with hip-hop group Mach Five. Here, Davis and Bailey talk to CL about their long work relationship, getting to know people through tattooing, and vivid colors.

Tell me about the show and how it came together.
Corey Davis: Windows to Nowhere is our first joint exhibition. We usually curate a group exhibition around this time of year, but we have both built such a large body of work over the past year that this would be the only way we could display all of it, while still making it a collaborative effort. Over the past year, I’ve been working on two series, my “Fantasy Adventure” series and the “Beauty” series.

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How has your relationship grown from mentor/mentee to collaborators in this show?
Miya Bailey: I watched Corey grow from a teenager to a grown man right in front of my eyes. When I took Corey as my apprentice when he was around 18-19 years old, I just wanted to protect him and make things a little easier than I had it coming up as an artist. Now Corey is one of my favorite visual artists and a man on his own path. I guess it went from me inspiring him to him inspiring me. He works hard so it makes me work hard. When I see him paint it makes me want to paint.
CD: Miya will always be like my big brother, but we’re also big fans of each other’s artwork, so it was pretty natural. We push and inspire each other to be greater on a creative level. Our styles are very different, so I’m interested in seeing how our different followers will react to each other’s art.

Corey, your art contains bright colors and cartoon-like features. Where does your style and inspiration come from?
CD: When I was growing up I always wanted to be an animator and I’m afraid that still holds influence on my style to date. I’m into bold and vivid imagery, especially with these last two series I’ve been working on, which happens to be visually inspired by ’90s cartoons and video games. My style is very meticulous; I try to paint the images as if they were designed on a computer and printed by a machine. I’m a fan of Andy Warhol and Takashi Murakami, artists who had a goal of removing their hand from the execution of their work, so that’s always something I’ve implemented into my work as well.



How does your tattooing experience influence your art?
MB: I think tattooing influences my art because you have to be personal with your clients. They share their deepest secrets with you and you have to protect these secrets and never tell another soul. So a lot of times I include my clients’ stories in my art. Good or bad, all these life stories inspire me in some way. And if they don’t have any interesting stories to share I study their features, from their eyes to their nose. I include it all in my paintings, illustrations, and sculptures.
CD: I get to meet a lot of people and see what they are into creatively, so it helps me create art that I’d like to think is universal and would appeal to different groups of people.

Miya, what’s your creative process as an artist?
MB: My paintings are dream-inspired. My creative process is to walk a lot. When I’m walking and I get alone time, ideas just come to me. When I get home after working all day I can’t wait to get to sleep just to dream. I try to remember all the colors I see in my dream which are almost the colors of my hometown Asheville.

What’s next?
CD: We’re working on locking in the dates for Windows to Nowhere in New York and San Francisco later this year. This spring, I start production on a short film I wrote with my friend Sean Fahie called A Day in the Life of Tim Friday. We also have the annual art show at City of Ink coming up this March.

Windows to Nowhere, a collaborative exhibition with Corey Davis and Miya Bailey, runs through March 1 at Nelson Street Gallery. More details at the gallery.