Martha Davis is a self-taught photographer, independent filmmaker/videographer, award-winning children’s book author and recently retired elementary school teacher based in Toronto. She has screened her films and exhibited her photographs nationally and internationally since 1979 and her short film “Reading between the Lines” was nominated for a Genie. It and her feature-length film “PATH” are available for streaming on vucavu.com. In 2014 Davis discovered green screen photography; her early efforts were with her grade 2 and 3 students, creating and publishing books together. She began writing and photographing her own children's books and was twice awarded the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Writer's Awards (2013, 2017). Upon her retirement from teaching in 2017 she had the inspiration for DREAM SCENES and began working with senior citizens. She has photographed over 350 seniors in a program which she has developed for seniors' homes. She has also photographed as many children in schools and daycares.
In "DREAM SCENES", Davis works with seniors, empowering them to fulfill some long-held fantasies, virtually, through the magic of green-screen photography. Seniors can go wherever they wish and do whatever they please; they are collaborators with her in the act of creating the photograph. Some look back at a place/event beloved to them from their past, while others look forward to an adventure they've never had. Whichever they choose, 92 is the new 29!
Davis exhibited her DREAM SCENES photographs in the Contact Photography Festival twice: in a solo show in Toronto, May 2019 and again in a virtual solo show at the Miles Nadal JCC in 2021. Several of these photos were also published in PhotoEd magazine (spring/summer 2018). Davis is available for bookings at seniors' residences throughout the GTA.
PICTURES/PICTUREMAKERS: Lifesize Colour Photocopy Portraits
This work demonstrates Davis’ concerns with fragmentation. These figures are alone, bursting in their own ways with kinetic energy, their stuttering figures unable to leave their identical white boxes. Davis uses the layering of images to attain this dynamic choreography, assembling and overlapping approximately thirty uncut photocopies to create the final figure. These larger than life portraits are reminiscent of the figures found in billboard advertising, but they subvert advertising imagery because of the rough look of the photocopy with its intricate texture yet shallow focus and unlife-like colour. Davis collaborated with all participants, each one a colleague in the Toronto Photography or Filmmaking community. Several added personal objects and artifacts and all had a say in the gestures they would ultimately make.
This work, created in the ‘90s, was exhibited then in The Photo Passage at Harbourfront in Toronto, Art Galleries in Oakville and Brampton, the Photographer’s Gallery in Saskatoon, and had a one-year installation at Innis College, Toronto. The photos show the installation at various venues, and the interaction of the public with the work.