Davis, Cherubini, in Contention

Five sculptures; three on low plinths, one leaning on a wall, and a flat, low sculpture with wood, a round object, and glass

Installation view, Davis, Cherubini: In Contention, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2009

Featured Artists
Taylor Davis
Nicole Cherubini
Explore all artists who have exhibited at the List in our Artist Index.

Taylor Davis and Nicole Cherubini are both established sculptors who are making important contributions to the field today.

Since  2006 they have been making works together under the name Davis, Cherubini—their two surnames separated by a comma (to read more like a list than as an independent author.)  As independent artists they shared a way of working with materials and forms derived from functional arts. In many cases Davis’s works appear to have been built by a woodworker, while Cherubini often works with vessel-like forms and uses clay among other materials to conjure iconic images of pots. 

Davis and Cherubini showed at the same gallery but did not know each other. The first night they met they decided to make these works and devised the basic form of this experiment in collaboration.

Objects are transferred between Davis’s Boston and Cherubini’s Brooklyn studios. Only one round of exchange per sculpture is performed; one starts, the other finishes. Cherubini explains, “There are numerous conversations, pictures and changes a sculpture endures. We want to view how the other sees these forms. We want to understand more about the ‘thing’ we have passed on.” And as Davis says, “It has to do with trust. Nicole can make it happen. I can make it happen. There is a deep pleasure in relinquishing the ‘It’s done’ to another person.” The artist who completes the piece gets to title it. 

At one level the collaborative nature of the project defies the ego inflation that occurs in an art world in which the solo artist’s name serves as a marker of a successful product line. More importantly, the project is the physical record of a dialogue between two artists understanding their own work when compared to the other’s efforts. The exhibition is organized by List Visual Arts Center curator Bill Arning. 

About the Artists

Taylor Davis grew up in Washington State, before moving to Boston to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University, where she earned a Diploma of Fine Arts and a B.S. of Education, respectively. She worked independently for several years before attending Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College receiving an M.F.A. in Sculpture. Davis lives and works in Boston, where she is an Associate Professor at Massachusetts College of Art. She is also Co-chair of Sculpture at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, and a visiting faculty member in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. She was included in the Whitney of American Art Biennial in 2004. Her work is in the permanent collections of The Fogg Museum at Harvard University, the ICA in Boston, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as in numerous private collections. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at Samson Projects and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and Triple Candie in New York City. Her work has also been featured in group exhibitions at Exit Art and White Columns in New York City. Grants and awards include the Association of International Art Critics Award (2007 and 2002); the St. Botolph Foundation Grant (2003); the Institute of Contemporary Art Artist Prize (2001); and a Massachusetts Cultural Council Grant (1999). Her work has been discussed in articles and reviews in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Art in America, Artforum, The Boston Globe, and The Boston Herald. She is represented by Samson Projects in Boston.

Nicole Cherubini was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970 and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Cherubini received her BFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1993, her MFA in Visual Arts from New York University in 1998, and she attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2002. She is a recipient of an NEA Travel Grant (Mexico), a New England Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2007) and recently an Art Matters Fellowship for travel and work in Mexico (2008-09). Past exhibitions include the project space at the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, PA; Make it Now: New Sculpture in New York at the Sculpture Center (New York City); Transformer at La Panadería (Mexico City); Irrational Profusion at PS1/MoMA (New York City); and Empires and Environments at the Rose Art Museum (Waltham, MA). In 2008, she had concurrent solo exhibitions with D’Amelio Terras and Smith-Stewart (New York City). In 2009, she will be featured in Dirt on Delight at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, which will travel to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN and also in An Expanded Field of Possibilities at the Contemporary Arts Forum, Santa Barbara, CA. Her upcoming solo exhibitions include the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA; Galerie Michael Janssen (Berlin, Germany); and Samson Projects in Boston. Her work has been written on by Roberta Smith, Franklin Sirmans, Ken Johnson, Jenelle Porter, and Lilly Wei, among others. In November of 2008, her “Top Ten” list appeared inArtForum. She is represented by Smith-Stewart and D’Amelio Terras in New York, Samson Projects in Boston, and Michael Janssen in Berlin.


Support for Davis, Cherubini, in Contention has been generously provided by the NLT Foundation, Frank Williams, Manuel de Santaren, Steven Corkin, Bob Davoli and Eileen McDonagh, an anonymous donor, the Council for the Arts at MIT, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Media Sponsor: Phoenix Media/Communications Group.