East City Reviews: Awareness Paintings by Regina Davis-Izaguirre at Evolve Urban Arts Project

By Gail Vollrath on December 6, 2012
Installation view of “Awareness” at the evolve urban arts project.  Installation photo by Gail Vollrath for East City Art.

Regina Davis-Izaguirre brings her sensitive, yet noble figurative paintings to the Evolve Urban Art Project’s Pierce School Lofts. Davis-Izaguirre is a skilled self- taught painter, satisfied with her accomplishment in the wonderful ability to paint in a magically realistic manor.

Identity, Oil on canvas, 40
X 30 in.  Courtesy of the artist.

Davis-Izaguirre’s first art exhibition was in her birthplace of Mexico City at the age of 16. She continued to hone her craft and added commissioned portraits to her oeuvre. In 2008, Davis-Izaguirre won a scholarship to travel to DC and work with the Art Museum of the Americas. Her mission was to develop a program to improve cultural awareness in her home community and then return to Mexico to implement the project. That plan shifted when she met her future husband and decided to stay in DC.

Adapting to her new home in DC took time. Davis-Izaguirre’s art work remained in Mexico and she mourned the artistic life she had there.  Although already an established artist in Mexico, she began the transition to life as an artist in the U.S. by engaging in typical activities that all artists take on at the beginning of their career – approach galleries for representation, send in exhibition proposals, and apply for residencies. Davis-Izaguirre was awarded a residency at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA and regained her stride in the studio which led to the creation of a new body of work.

Religion and Duty, Oil on canvas, 40 x 52 in.  Courtesy of the artist.

When asked about her process, Davis-Izaguirre shared that her Catholic upbringing and the writings of philosophers like Descartes are key in expanding her inquiry into internal dualities and meanings in life. The artists she pays attention to are surrealist painters Remedios Varo (Spanish-Mexican) and Rene Magritte (Belgian). Coming from Mexico and leaving her family there, was the impetus to explore the cultural differences between her home country and the U.S. An important observation for Davis-Izaguirre is that people are more open and willing to expose themselves here in the U.S., they are “more respectful of raw emotions”. Emotion is a small part of what is apparent in her paintings.

Healing Wound, Oil on
Canvas, 48 x 36 in.  Courtesy of the artist.
Symbolism plays a huge part in  Davis-Izaguirre’s messaging. The stances she assigns her figures directly reference traditional religious iconography. Images of birds appear in many of her works partly stemming from childhood memories of her family’s collection of over 60. For Davis-Izaguirre, birds operate as reference to freedom. The hummingbirds (the only bird that has the ability to fly backward and propel itself forward) in her painting, Healing Wound, emerge from a wound reminiscent of Christ’s and symbolize looking at the past (backward) and the future (forward). The birds are either “coming in” or “going out”.
Birth: Witnessing life, Oil on canvas, 20 x 26 in.  Courtesy of the artist.


In the painting Birth: Witnessing Life, Davis-Izaguirre paints a child intently gazing upward with eyes crossed in closeness to a hatching egg. She observes that children in this country are more aware of contemporary issues and reality. In Mexico kids are kids, they like fantasy.

In Identity (top, right), the background is a halo of stained glass which includes the Mayan symbol of corn, the “source of all life”. Doves represent freedom and the eyeless, mouth-less figure remains fixed in a search for self.

What’s next for Davis-Izaguirre? Inspired by the “strong personalities” and camaraderie at the Torpedo Factory, she has applied for a permanent studio space there. In addition to expanding her studio practice, she plans to continue to approach local galleries for representation.

“Awareness” continues through January 4, 2013

The Evolve Urban Arts project at the Pierce School Lofts is located at  1375 Maryland Ave (14th Street NE)

For appointment to view the work,  email curator Geoff Ault at geoff@evolvedc.com

Visit Regina Davis-Izaguirre’s web site at www.reginarte.com.